Monday, December 28, 2020

THE THIRD FRED ASTAIRE AND GINGER ROGERS BLOGATHON: I'll Be Seeing You, 1944


Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood is hosting The Third Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers blogathon while her partner in this endeavour, Crystal of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood is hospitalized with a serious illness. The blogathon is a lovely way we can send our best wishes to Crystal for her recovery.

The tributes to Fred and Ginger can be found HERE from December 28th to 30th.

People reach out to other people instinctually. Often times, behavior and circumstances keep us from doing so, giving us the feeling of perpetually being on the outside looking in. Some people seem to know how to navigate life while others wonder if they will ever know the secret. 

Joseph Cotten

furlough (noun): 1. a leave of absence granted to a governmental or institutional employee (such as a soldier or civil servant), Merriam-Webster

Sgt. Zachary Morgan is on furlough from an army hospital. He is shell-shocked (PTSD) from his time in the Pacific. Zach has medals that attest to his bravery and a Purple Heart to indicate he was wounded. His mind is taking a long time to recover. The doctors have given Zach advice and reassurances he will be able to handle two weeks over the Christmas holiday reacquainting himself with civilian life.

Joseph Cotten stars as Zach Morgan in a charming and gut-wrenching performance. He is charming in his attempts to reconnect with the world "back home" and breaks our heart when overwhelmed by the memories of Guadalcanal that will probably never fade. Zach is on his own fighting with the horrors of battle, the horrors of his cure, and his fear of failure.

Joseph Cotten

Zach (to himself): "Don't get worried, Zach. That bayonet wound is all healed, but the wound in your mind is going to take a little more time. That's why the doctors gave you this ten day leave from the hospital --- to prove to you that you can go out in the world again and find a place for yourself. It's going to take a little while to get your timing back. You'll still drop things and be a little slow, but you'll get well. They told you you would. The important thing is not to get too tired, not to give in. Then you won't get any of those things that wind up with a shot in the arm, or a tub or that little room with a barred window. You can fight those things off, Zach, if you believe that you'll get well." 

Ginger Rogers

furlough (noun): 3. a set period of time when a prisoner is allowed to leave a prison, Merrian-Webster 

Mary Marshall is on furlough from a Women's Prison where she is serving what her family considers to be an unjust sentence. She has been a model prisoner and is allowed the consideration of a Christmas with her uncle, aunt, and teenaged cousin. 

Ginger Rogers stars as Mary Marshall, a young woman who wins our sympathy while dealing with her twin burdens of imaginary confidence and confusion. The world has changed during her years "inside" and she is marked with the stain of her conviction.

Home is a place called Pinehill. It is the home of Uncle Henry played by Tom Tully, Aunt Sarah played by Spring Byington, and Barbara played by Shirley Temple. They represent the normal life that Mary now feels she can never attain. The Marshall family unit is open-hearted and welcoming to Mary. The family enjoys the easy, teasing way of people who have lived together and think they understand each other. 

Sarah is more philosophical than you might think. She worries about Mary and wants to make things work out for her. This exchange between the characters is the homey set of the kitchen speaks many truths.

Ginger Rogers, Spring Byington

Aunt Sarah: "Honey, you've got to stop being afraid. You've got to stop feeling that you're branded like people were in the old days. You've done something. You're paying your debt to society. Most people are willing to let it go at that." 

Mary: "I know, Aunt Sarah, but coming out into the world and seeing everybody in uniform, everybody doing something --- I just don't belong. I don't fit in. And dreams that I've had for the future are just impossible."

Aunt Sarah: "Well, most dreams are, Mary. It's just the dreaming that counts. Nobody gets exactly what he wants out of life. One of the first things you learn is to make compromises with your dreams."

Ginger Rogers, Shirley Temple

Uncle Henry and Aunt Sarah have been less than forthcoming to their daughter Barbara about Mary's troubles and the teen is curious and repelled by the thought of sharing her room with a convict. Barbara's lack of maturity leads to a strained relationship with her cousin. Eventually, it is Mary's honesty that brings them together.

Joseph Cotten, Ginger Rogers

Zach and Mary met on the train to Pinehill. It was not Zach's destination but he impulsively concocts a story of a sister in town and gets off the train determined to meet Mary again. What could be more normal than to follow up an attraction to an appealing traveling saleslady? You see, Zach and Mary have secrets to keep from each other.

Zach is the first to open up about his recovery process. The welcoming from the Marshalls and the kind support of Mary appears to be a major step in his healing. His gratitude is quickly turning to love. Mary is falling in love with the sweet and troubled man and fears that her reality, as opposed to what he sees, will cause a setback. 

Spring Byington, Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten, Tom Tully, Shirley Temple
Christmas dinner at home.

Those year-end milestones Christmas and New Year's Eve are celebrated with the attendant rise and fall of emotions. The furloughs are coming to an end, but what about the relationships forged with genuine feeling and one pitiable and looming lie?

Spring Byington, Tom Tully, Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten 
New Year's Eve Dance at the YMCA

I'll Be Seeing You is a beautiful and honestly told story with exquisitely memorable performances from the entire ensemble. It touches the lonely searching core to be found in everyone.

Charles Martin's radio play Double Furlough first aired in October of 1943 starring Gertrude Lawrence and James Cagney. David Selznick Studios (Since You Went Away) produced the 1944 film directed by William Dieterle (Portrait of Jennie) from Marion Parsonnet's (Gilda) screenplay. 

I'll Be Seeing You by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahan was written in 1938 and with its romantic longing became a popular tune during the war years. It has been recorded by many great artists. Two of my favourite recordings are by Bing Crosby and Billie Holiday, both from 1944.











29 comments:

  1. I’m sure this is a very good movie, but I’m afraid I have a hard time imagining Ginger Rogers playing a jailbird... unless it’s for laughs.

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    1. I'll Be Seeing You is a lovely, emotional drama and I think Ginger might be able to win you over.

      Other Ginger jailbirds:

      Tight Spot, 1955
      Phil Karlson directed this taut crime picture. Edward G. Robinson wants Ginger to squeal on mobster Lorne Greene. Brian Keith is the cop assigned to keep her alive.

      Roxie Hart, 1942
      This is one you've been waiting for! William Wellman directed this straight, no musical version of Chicago. Ginger is the manipulative Roxie who doesn't know half of the tricks her lawyer Billy Flynn played by Adolphe Menjou has at his disposal.

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  2. Forgot she was in ROXIE HART! I think I saw that but it would’ve been long ago.

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    1. "Roxie" has legs. The story is about a hundred years old and still rings true.

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  3. Thanks for the tip with Roxie Hart as Chicago one of my fave musicals - and it seems Joseph Cotten worked with everyone, getting some tips for his movies in every blogathon!

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    1. On the ground and in the air, Joseph Cotten is everywhere! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

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  4. Like you said this is an emotionally honest film, one that doesn't have all the easy answers. Remarkable performances here, especially from Joseph Cotten and Shirley Temple.

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    1. If they have the talent, the right material will bring out sides of actors that we haven't seen and that we will never forget.

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  5. LEW AYRES was born on this day in 1908. His passing was in 1996 just two days after he turned 88. As you know Lew was once married to GINGER ROGERS. Lew played the murder victim in a COLUMBO episode which starred ROBERT WALKER(Jr.) and JOSE FERRER. Like Lew, Jose was once married to a very famous woman-ROSEMARY CLOONEY. Jose and Rosemary(her friends called her Rosie) were married TWO times.

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    1. I actually watched Lew Ayres today in the pilot for the original Hawaii Five-O. He is a favourite of mine throughout all the eras of his career.

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  6. I always remember that LEW AYRES was in THE BISCUIT EATER, a DISNEY movie that starred JOHNNY WHITAKER. EARL HOLLIMAN and PATRICIA CROWLEY played the parents to Johnny and Lew played the boss to Earl. I've mentioned before that I am a big fan of both Earl and Patricia. I remember that you are too. They are both deserving of some kind of lifetime achievement award!

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    1. I agree that Ms. Crowley and Mr. Holliman deserve some recognition while they are still with us.

      I have not seen the 1972 version of The Biscuit Eater, but I did once see the earlier 1940 movie. I'm sure I would like the "newer" movie.

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  7. This movie is so good. My heart swells every time I see how kind Tom Tully and Spring Byington's characters are, and it also breaks whenever Zach or Mary are suddenly reminded of the war or prison. I'm basically a puddle of tears by the time that final scene comes around.

    Thanks for contributing this lovely piece to the blogathon!

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    1. Thank you. It was my pleasure to reacquaint myself with the movie and to write this piece.

      My feelings mirror yours regarding I'll Be Seeing You. It goes straight to my heart with no detour.

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  8. I typed in the name PATRICIA CROWLEY on your site and a JAMES GARNER blog turned up and it was about MAVERICK. I checked the comment section and it was as I remembered-I mentioned Pat was in THE BISCUIT EATER and you mentioned that you saw both BISCUIT EATER movies. You stated that you liked the older one best. The Garner page is dated Feb. 3 of this year. I thought you would want to know.

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  9. SPRING BYINGTON played the mother to DORIS DAY in PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES(60). PATRICIA CROWLEY played the lead in the sitcom PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES which aired in the late 60s. Besides Miss Crowley, her TV husband MARK MILLER and all four boys(the sons) are still with us. Mark turned 96 in November! His daughter is PENELOPE ANN MILLER who has played lots of interesting roles.

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    1. I didn't know about Mark Miller's daughter being an actress. I recall at one time he was married to Barbara Stanger when she was on Days of Our Lives.

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  10. Well done, Paddy. I love this movie. It captures the era so well and yet also transcends it.

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    1. Nicely said. I can't imagine how anyone could share these character's journeys and not see something that speaks to them.

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  11. The plot of this film reminds me a bit of Remember The Night, that lovely Barbara Stanwyck-Fred MacMurray movie in which he, a successful lawyer from a poor background, befriends and takes home for Christmas a woman he's been prosecuting for shoplifting, and how they eventually come to terms with their pasts and their uncertain futures. Christmas does seem to inspire such soul-searching stories like this.

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    1. Ah, Remember the Night. A glass of wine and tears at the end. When I was a "tween" I would have the tears at the end, but not the wine.

      Indeed, this time year gives us a moment to pause and reflect on life, its choices and its uncertainties.

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  12. Somehow, I have never seen I'LL BE SEEING YOU! It sounds like a lovely movie with a terrific cast. In addition to the stars, it's always interesting to see Shirley Temple in her later roles. Finally, best wishes for a speedy recovery for Crystal!

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    1. Hopefully, TCM will start giving the movie a push next holiday season.

      We are hoping for good news regarding Crystal.

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  13. JACQUES BERGERAC was once married to GINGER ROGERS. One of the few things I know him from is an ep of THE LUCY SHOW. He also guest starred on PERRY MASON and THE DORIS DAY SHOW. As you have mentioned Doris and Ginger played sisters in a dramatic movie.

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    1. A handsome fellow. It is easy to imagine Ginger falling for him.

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  14. I just found out the sad news that DAWN WELLS has died at the age of 82. She really embraced her role as MARY ANN on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND. She guest starred on two eps of BONANZA. I remember that you saw her in a play-FATAL ATTRACTION-with KEN HOWARD. Dawn was cute and one of the top girls next door on TV. She had a clothing line for people with limited mobility. Like GINGER ROGERS, Dawn was a guest star on THE LOVE BOAT.

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    1. Sad news indeed. Dawn was a very appealing actress and Gilligan's Island gave her classic TV immortality.

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  15. This is indeed a beautiful movie. I'm glad you highlight Ginger and Spring's conversation scene, as it really got me. You knew which parts to highlight and I'm sure more people will want to watch this film after your review.
    Kisses!

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    1. Thank you. Your very kind words mean a lot to me.

      Let's head into our new year with our hearts full of hope.

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