Greetings from VKMfanHuey!!!

Welcome to the Gingerology blog for the 1935 RKO film, Roberta!!!

This was the third pairing of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire...and their partnership really hits stride here, as they workout "I'll Be Hard To Handle" and glide through the beauty of "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes". The setting is at Roberta's, the top fashion shop in Paris - and concerns one of the designers there, Stephanie (Irene Dunne), and her budding romance with John Kent (Randolph Scott), the nephew of the lady currently running Roberta's, Aunt Minnie (Helen Westley). When Minnie passes away, John assumes the role of running the shop, but is not quite up to the task...but Stephanie should be. With help from John's musical bud Huck Haines (Astaire) and the 'Pseudo Countess Scharwenka', a.k.a. Lizzie Gatz (Rogers), who also just happens to be Huck's 'old gal' from Indiana, Stephanie might make be able to salvage the shop...and her relationship with John.

Please note the 'menu' above, which has various information regarding the film; to the right (just below the Gingerology link) there are additional links regarding the film.

Please feel free to leave a comment with any general info, links, pics, or just to say hi!

...And be sure to check out our 'main' site, Gingerology - just click on the Ginger pic to the right. There you'll find a list of ALL of Ginger Rogers' films; click on any one, and you will be directed to a 'dedicated' blog about that film (not unlike this blog).

Keep It Gingery, y'all!



Huey's Review - February 14, 2013

(March 8, 1935 - RKO Radio)
Run Time (approximate): 106 Minutes.
Directed by: William A. Seiter.
Assistant Directors: Kenneth Holmes, Edward Killy, Argyle Nelson, C. C. Thompson, Sam White. 
Production Management: C. J. White.
Production Associate: Zion Myers. 
Producer: Pandro S. Berman. 
Cinematography by: Edward Cronjager. 
From the novel "Gowns by Roberta" by: Alice Duer Miller.
Treatment: Dorothy Yost.
From the Play by: Jerome Kern.
Book of Play by: Otto A. Harbach. 
Screenplay: Jane Murfin, Sam Mintz and Allan Scott.
Additional Dialogue: Glenn Tryon. 
Researcher: Elizabeth McGaffey.
Original Music by: Jerome Kern.
Additional Lyrics: Dorothy Fields, Otto A. Harbach, Jimmy McHugh
Musical Director: Max Steiner. 
Composers: Max Steiner.
Music Arrangements: Wayne Allen and Gene Rose.
Music Recordist: Philip Faulkner Jr.
Recordist: John E. Tribby. 
Sound Cutter: George Marsh
Film Editing: William Hamilton. 
Camera Operator: Robert De Grasse. 
Special Effects: Harry Redmond Sr.
Still Photographer: John Miehle.
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase.
Art Department: Carroll Clark, Thomas Little (set dresser). 
Makeup Department: Mel Berns. 
Costume Design: Bernard Newman.
Dances Arranged by: Fred Astaire.
Assistant Dance Director: Hermes Pan.
Stand-ins:  James Baker, Harry Cornbleth, Ruth Day, Elizabeth McGaffey and Marie Osborne. 
Also Starring: Irene Dunne (as Stephanie), Fred Astaire (as Huck), Randolph Scott (as John Dent), Helen Westley (as Roberta), Claire Dodd (as Sophie), Victor Varconi (as Ladislaw), Luis Alberni (as Voyda), Ferdinand Munier (as Lord Delves), Torben Meyer (as Albert), Adrian Rosley (as Professor), Bodil Rosing (as Fernande).  
UNCREDITED CAST: Lucille Ball (as Fashion Model), Hal Borne (as Wabash Indianian), Halbert Brown (as Wabash Indianian), Candy Candido (as Candy - Trick-voiced Wabash Indianian), William Carey (as Wabash Indianian), Virginia Carroll (as Fashion Model), Lynne Carver (as Fashion Model), Diane Cook (as Fashion Model), Phil Cuthbert (as Wabash Indianian), William B. Davidson (as Ship's Officer), Delmon Davis (Wabash Indianian), Anna DeLinsky (in Small Role), Lorraine DeSart (as Fashion Model), Ivan Dow (as Wabash Indianian), Betty Dumbries (as Fashion Model), William R. Dunn (as Wabash Indianian), Mary Forbes (as Mrs. Teale), William Frawley (as Bartender), Rita Gould (as Woman), Jane Hamilton (as Liane - Fashion Model), Grace Hayle (as Miss Jones - Newspaper Reporter), Maxine Jennings (as Fashion Model), Howard Lally (as Wabash Indianian), Mike Lally (as Bar Customer), Lorna Low (as Fashion Model), Muzzy Marcellino (as Wabash Indianian), Margaret McChrystal (as Fashion Model), Paul McLarind (as Wabash Indianian), Chris Marie Meeker (in Small Role), Marie Osborne (as Fashion Model), Wanda Perry (as Fashion Model), Donna Mae Roberts (as Fashion Model), Charlotte Russell (in Small Role), Zena Savine (as Woman), Sam Savitsky (as Cossack), Charles Sharpe (as Wabash Indianian), Gene Sheldon (as Banjo-Playing Wabash Indianian), Kay Sutton (as Fashion Model), Mike Tellegen (as Cossack), Dale Van Sickel (as Cossack), Michael Visaroff (as Waiter), Judith Vosselli (as Woman).      
Ginger's Character: Tanka Scharwenka. 
Ginger's 'Screen Time': Approximately 25 Minutes and 45 Seconds (24.3% of the film). 
GingerTunes: I'll Be Hard to Handle, I Won't Dance ('duet' with Fred).
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) - (1-10): 8.0 - Tanka Scharwenka is quite the Polish Countess, y'all (hey, when's the last time you saw the words 'Polish' and 'y'all' in the same sentence?...yeah, that's what I thought...)... And Ginger is obviously having a great time with this character... The "I'll be Hard to Handle" song is very cute... and the subsequent dance routine with the Huckster is one of my fave 'carefree-style' routines they ever do, along with the gnarly '...eggs in basket...' routine in Follow the Fleet for just GingerAwsomeness, the 'Smoke' dress is amongst the top of her historic list of gowns (maybe we should do a poll or something...) ...and of course, just can't forget the Gold number...please scroll to the top for verification of its proper place in the annals of Gingerology, y'all...
The only 'down' side is...well, there's just not ENOUGH Ginger here... actually, more than I first remembered, but, still, it's not like a 'Ginger and Fred FEATURE' film...
Film Quality (1-10): 9.0 - As one of the GandF films, WB again does the spit and polish to great effect... kudos to the Burbank Gang...
Huey's Review for GINGEROLOGY: ...The third GandF movie (although they are 'second-billed', or at least 'co-billed' with Irene Dunne) opens with buds Huck and John, along with their big ol' band of Indianans, be-bopping their way to Paris...France, that is... John is the manager of this trombone tribe, and somehow landed a gig in Paree for them...but, the dude who signed them thought they were Indians...Cleveland, perhaps?  And thus, they were rejected. BUT, John just so happens (weird how things seem to 'intertwine' in these photoplays...) to have a mondo rich aunt...who is the premiere designer in all of France...Roberta is her name. Well, let's go ring her up and see what SHE'S got cookin'...
Of course, John and Huck and all the musicians win over Roberta, and even catch the ear of a disgruntled client of Roberta's, who just so happens to be in show biz herself, and just so happens to work at the very place the band was originally scheduled to play (see what I mean about the ironic twists?)...this lady's name is Scharwenka. a Polish countess... but you can call her Tanka... and Huck actually knows her as Lizzie Gatz from somewhere in Indiana... so now we are 'full circle' as it were, with the introductions.
This leaves only one meeting which is a true 'first time occurrence', and that is between John and Roberta's assistant, Stephanie, who, of course, John falls for immediately... and she seems to feel the same way.
Well, Tanka gets them 'in' to the nightclub for the gig, and they manage to get a few tunes in, as well as a nice little routine by Huck and, Tanka, to the tune "I'll Be Hard to Handle"... before the goofball manager realizes the band is the same one he rejected the first time...he thinks they are good, but...still tosses them, along with Tanka...whatever, dude... 
In the meantime, Roberta is in failing health, and soon passes away... and with that, the business somehow is left to John...well, he was the only relative she liked, so...lesson to y'all...respect your elders.
But John knows about as much regarding fashion as...well, I do... so he wants Steph to have the business... but before THAT can happen, another dude that worked for Roberta jumps on the fact that the joint wasn't willed to Stephanie in the first place, and this John dude is just horning in on the action... well, that riles John up, but overall he talks Stephanie into being a 'partner'.
Huck and Tanka join up to help out the biz... and all is moving along well, until... you guessed of those 'ironic twists' occurs, when John's old ladyfriend, Sophie, who is just happening to be traveling abroad, and reads of John's 'inheritance' of the Roberta empire, decides to drop by and see if he needs some help... well, of course, this causes JUST a bit of friction between Steph and John, which results ultimately in John telling off Sophie (good thing) AND Stephanie (bad thing). But, here's where our heroes (Tanka and Huck) come in and get John and Stephanie back together... and it's not hard to figure the end result of this one, as usual... 
Of course, GandF plow thru a few more dances, including the awesome 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' routine at the end... another neat spot in the fashion show finale is Lucille Ball's appearance as a model.

Favorite Ginger Moments: I'll be Hard to Handle...of course... along with any second GandF are 'in effect' on the dance stage... but a few 'specific' dialogue scenes hit me VERY well... one was the part where Tanka and Huck are talking to John on the couch, and Huck starts talking about 'another girl' at home called 'Lizzie', which of course lights up, Tanka, with the culminating phrase of the exchange dealing with this Lizzie girl's 'Beeg Feets'...
...another moment that I 'speculate' on, thus being pretty awesome, is when Ginger is 'introduced' in the big finale show, while Fred is leading the band...Ginger has this bodacious fur 'cowl' thingy shrouding her entire upper half, so as she walks towards Fred at the bandstand, you just see Fred smiling at her approaching, but you DON'T see Ginger's face...
...and SOMETHING tells me Ginger probably was making goofy faces or something there in an attempt to 'crack' Fred up... just a weird theory of mine that might just be true... :-)  
Well, as to screen caps and 'alternate plotline', this review begins the 'new policy' regarding GingerFilm Review posts...since the 'alternate universe' screen cap 'HueyPlots' are somewhat involved at times, and require multiple screen caps in places, they will be henceforth presented in a 'dedicated post', as soon as possible after the 'post proper' occurs... now, with that, I'm going to work a few more pics into the 'proper' review, just to mix things there ya go - you've been may return to your domiciles...

Other Reviews:  
"You'll forget the plot when Astaire and Rogers dance." - Liberty
"Mr. Astaire's dancing is not only an aesthetic excitement, but also comedy of a unique and lofty order. In one of the best episodes in Roberta he engages in a pantomimic dance with Miss Ginger Rogers which is quite as eloquently comic as an acrimonious love scene out of Noel Coward... For the pattering humor of Let's Begin, Hard to Handle, and I Won't Dance, there are the extraordinarily pleasing song-and-dance duets of Mr. Astaire and Miss Rogers... If there is a flaw in the photoplay, it is the unfortunate circumstance that Mr. Astaire and his excellent partner, Miss Rogers, cannot be dancing during every minute of it." - New York Times
"In Ginger Rogers, and as long as he can continue dancing on the screen, Astaire has found an ideal partner. Miss Rogers dances well enough to be able to hold her own in the stepping numbers, which is something when dancing with Astaire. Besides which she looks better and works better with each succeeding picture. In Roberta, Miss Rogers makes an authoritative bid for the title of No. 1 Hollywood ingenue. Her work here includes an imitation, unannounced, of Lyda Roberti, who played the stage role." - Variety 
"Mr. Fred Astaire and Miss Ginger Rogers lend it their agreeable personalities and decorate it with their amazing dancing which is so perfect in technique that it has more of the ballet than the ballroom about it... Miss Rogers improves with every film and her partnership with Mr. Astaire should not be broken." - London Times

From GINGER: My Story: "In Roberta, I was the Countess Scharwenka, a.k.a. Lizzie Gatz, an American singer posing as a Polish noblewoman. I relished doing accents and Scharwenka with her Polish accent was really up my alley. With handsome clothes by my favorite designer, Bernard Newman, and beautiful songs to dance to, I had the time of my life playing this role."

Miscellaneous Stuff: 
--- Ginger plated Polish Countess Tanka Scharwenka, which is a nod to Polish-born actress Lyda Roberti, who played the original role on Broadway.
--- The 'stage name' for Ginger's character in the Broadway play was 'Madame Nunez', and her 'real name' was 'Clementina Scharwenka'.
--- MGM purchased the rights to the film, and promptly produced a remake in 1952, Lovely to Look At (ironically directed by Mervyn LeRoy, and starring Kathryn Grayson, Howard Keel, Red Skelton, Ann Miller, gower Champion, Marge Champion, and Zsa Zsa Gabor); MGM kept Roberta out of circulation for some time, to prevent the films from competing between each other.
--- Lucille Ball's character in the movie originally had a few lines of dialogue, but they were deleted in the 'final cut'.
--- The original Broadway production included some famous or soon-to-be-famous folks, including Bob Hope, Fred MacMurray, Sydney Greenstreet and George Murphy.
--- In the dance routine for I'll Be Hard to Handle, there's a 'bugle call' which occurs in the middle of the routine, in which Ginger and Fred 'snap to attention'... this 'running gag' started in The Gay Divorcee, and continues in Follow the Fleet (where it at least makes a bit more sense...).
--- Jerome Kern's tune I Won't Dance was taken from one of his earlier musicals, Three Sisters (which flopped).
---Kern's tune Lovely to Look At, written especially for the film, was nominated for Best Song at the 1935 Academy Awards.
--- The tiara worn by Irene Dunne during the Smoke Gets in your Eyes scene was made of real emeralds, and was estimated to be worth $250,000.00 - it was 'on loan' from a jeweler for filming.
--- Known to be Clarissa Smith's favorite GingerFilm... ...for others of you... ...not so much...

GingerFilm Ranking: #6 of 29. OK, OK...I know everyone (well, MOST of y'all...) loves this film... BUT... here's the deal... this movie has Ginger and Fred in a supporting role, thus... not a heap different than 'Rio'...albeit with a full complement of GandF dance numbers... as for the 'Gingeryness' factor, in my HONEST opinion (normally I lie to y'all...) I think that Honey Hale and Scharwenka are a 'push', on the 'sassymeter'... so overall, just due to more 'Ginger face time', the fact Ginger loved the role (see bio excerpt above), and overall a better plot line (but again, truly the same result concerning the 'main characters' - dude falls for girl, dude messes up and seemingly loses girl forever, sweet fate intervenes and gets the two crazy kids back together, and they're invariably picking out drapery patterns by the time the credits roll...), this one settles in just above 'Rio'... but, truly, I'm just not sure if this one will 'best' ANY of the remaining GandF films set for review...just keepin' it real, y'all... as Franklin Pangborn used to say, "Don't hate the playa, hate tha game..."...

After Twenty-Eight Reviews:
#01 - The Gay Divorcee
#02 - Rafter Romance
#03 - Romance in Manhattan
#04 - Professional Sweetheart
#05 - 42nd Street
#06 - Roberta
#07 - Flying Down to Rio
#08 - Twenty Million Sweethearts
#09 - Sitting Pretty
#10 - The Tenderfoot
#11 - The Tip-Off
#12 - Upper World
#13 - Queen High
#14 - Change of Heart
#15 - Young Man of Manhattan
#16 - You Said A Mouthful
#17 - Carnival Boat
#18 - A Shriek in the Night
#19 - The Thirteenth Guest
#20 - Don't Bet On Love
#21 - Chance at Heaven
#22 - Finishing School
#23 - Broadway Bad
#24 - Gold Diggers of 1933 
#25 - The Sap From Syracuse
#26 - Suicide Fleet
#27 - Follow The Leader
#28 - Honor Among Lovers
#29 - Hat Check Girl***
*** - Not viewed or reviewed due to unavailability.

Up Next: Star of Midnight... .Ginger teams up with the King of 'whodunnits', Willam Powell, in an RKO version of...well, "The Thin Man"...with Ginger stepping into Myrna Loy's spot...kinda weird not seeing 'Nick and Nora', but, if ANYONE can 'sub' for Mrs Charles, it's Ginger, right?  ...and yes, hopefully this review will have a decidedly shorter 'turnaround' than Roberta... here's hoping...

Until then, as always...

KIG, Y'all!!!


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