Ginge Binge: The 1960s + Concluding Thoughts

July 31, 2018

What a month! This July, I set out to rewatch Ginger's entire filmography with the exception of the non-commercially available Hat Check Girl (1932), and I've accomplished just that. This month, I have watched 73 Ginger movies. I had seen all 73 except for Carnival Boat (1932), so that was exciting and new to me this month. As of this point, I've wrapped up my Ginge Binge with The Confession (1964), Cinderella (1965), and Harlow (1965). To read my first Ginge Binge post, click here.

The 1960s for Ginger, as far as films went, were a disappointment. It's difficult to watch your favorite actress go from revolutionary pre-code musicals to aged stage mother in a low budget biopic. But no matter what was thrown at her, Ginger delivers. Even in the more dull films, she's the light that shines bright enough to grab your attention even when everything else around her is disastrous.

Of these three pictures, the one I enjoyed the most was the Rodgers & Hammerstein CBS TV musical Cinderella. Although underwhelming at times, it is bright, cheerful, and has a catchy score. Ginger plays the Queen, with Walter Pidgeon as her King. Pidgeon had starred with her in Week-End at the Waldorf twenty years prior. She doesn't have a large amount of screen time, but when she does, she's magical. She exudes elegance in her queenly attire, and there is even a brief but charming scene in which she dances with Pidgeon.

Ginger with Walter Pidgeon in Cinderella (1965)

The other two films from this decade are quite lost on me. One is a low budget, less than accurate biopic on Jean Harlow, in which Ginger plays Harlow's intense mother, and the other involves the accidental pregnancy of a young girl working at a bordello, a place run by Ginger's character Madame Rinaldi.

The Confession, filmed in the 1960s but not released until the 1970s, was produced by Ginger's egotistical husband at the time and shot on location in Jamaica. Regarding this film, she Ginger stated in her 1991 autobiography: "I played the madame of a high-class brothel. I never in this world would have agreed to such a thing had the producer not been my husband."

Harlow was not much better. There isn't much I can comment on regarding the accuracy of this picture, as I am not well enough informed on Jean Harlow to make educated judgments, but most of what I've ever read about this film is harsh.  It was released by Magna Pictures and filmed using Electronovision, and shot in only eight days. Harlow stars Carol Lynley, not to be confused with another film of the same name released that same year starring Caroll Baker and Angela Lansbury.

Publicity photo for Harlow (1965)

Ginger's film career may have come to a quick end, but the rest of her professional life was flourishing. In 1965, she took on the role of Dolly Levi in Hello, Dolly! on Broadway. She would also go on to play the titular role in the stage production of Mame in London, and would continue on to even more stage successes.


Final Thoughts

I started out completely doing this for fun as a way to commemorate Ginger's birthday month, but I did not fully realize what this journey would encompass. Throughout the month, I feel that I gained an even greater respect for Ginger's abilities than I already had. I became better at noticing the less obvious recurring themes, and it taught me to effectively remember the order of several films released in the same year. This journey also put into perspective just how many pictures Ginger had under her belt before ever collaborating with Fred Astaire. I watched her grow as a performer in a short time frame, and by composing these articles, I got to dig even deeper into the work that shaped the career of one of the screen's sweetest, most beloved stars.

Lastly, I'd like to thank those who have been keeping up with this series on Twitter and those reading these articles. I wouldn't have had the inspiration to do so without you, and I appreciate your support immensely!

Ginger in 1964




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