Let's face it - we all want Ginger Rogers' cinematic wardrobe, ja?
Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle (1940)
It is time to get SERIOUS. And not just any serious: OSCAR SERIOUS.
Yes, Oscar season is the ideal time to get all Kitty Foyle round here. And for those of you who haven’t seen it, Kitty Foyle is SUCH a lovely movie. This was something of a surprise to us What Ginger Wore gals when we first watched it. We have found so many Oscar movies annoyingly self-important, with performances turned up to 11, tackling Big Issues in the most cringe-inducing obvious way. But Kitty Foyle manages to avoid the Oscar Serious trap, and feels fast, funny, a little sad, a little romantic, and surprisingly graceful.
Plus, we really love Ginger in it! We were sort of dreading Ginger’s Big Oscar Turn – would she be Acting instead of acting? But instead, we can say with relief that:
Ginger Rogers IS: KITTY FOYLE!
Seriously, she’s just great in this. Kitty Foyle feels so real. She’s pragmatic and romantic, serious and playful, the Everywoman and radiant at the same time. And the wardrobe, the script, the directing, the cinematography are all supporting Ginger and Kitty to their maximum effect.
Just take the Kitty Foyle dress. The dress that exemplified the 1940’s working woman! What’s especially great about it (besides the fact that it has aged pretty darn well – I’d wear it to work), is that even though it is THE DRESS THAT EXEMPLIFIES THE 1940’S WORKING WOMAN - it is very much in the background. I mean heck, this isn’t even all that important of a scene; Kitty is just rushing to work, bantering with her dad, no biggie. But that is the point - it is a dress for work, a dress to move around in, not really for show or fuss. I love that the famous Kitty Foyle dress is sort of incidental to the scene, let alone to the movie.
Not to say that it isn’t a wonderful dress. I love the way the famous white collar is actually edged in black – what a great little detail. And the fit is perfect, of course. This is Hollywood Real, not verisimilitude real. The verisimilitude comes from Ginger’s performance, not from strategically placed grime.
Though, this movie made us a little sad that actresses seldom win Oscars by playing Everywomen anymore. Certain types are in fashion, and the fashion this last decade has been female characters that are Special – trending towards famous historical figures (Virginia Wolff, Edith Piaf, Queen frickin’ Elizabeth(s)). We know Special People are Special; Margaret Thatcher matters, even without Meryl Streep. But it is easy to forget, and harder to illuminate, why the poor, the ordinary, the not-Special matter. It is a challenge to make an audience care about some random gal from Philadelphia who works a 9-5 job and has a couple of cute but difficult boyfriends. It is to Ginger’s great credit that Kitty Foyle does matter.