My current Top 5

My current Top 5

10/23/2009

Best Actress 1940: Ginger Rogers in "Kitty Foyle"

Ginger Rogers received the only Oscar nominations of her career – and won the award – for her role as the title character in Kitty Foyle, a white-collar working girl trying to make her way in the world and caught between two men.

With Kitty Foyle, Ginger Rogers proved that she could just as easily handle drama as comedies and musicals and it’s surprising that her natural talent for dramatic parts hadn’t been discovered earlier.

Kitty Foyle is mostly told as a flashback. Ginger’s Kitty has the opportunity to run away with the love of her life, Wyn Strafford, who is from a rich family – and married. The fact that he offers Kitty the possibility to become his mistress and that Kitty actually agrees with this is certainly shocking considering the time the movie was made. But right after she agreed to Wyn’s offer, Kitty’s conscience starts to talk to her – in the form of her mirror image.
Kitty begins to think about her future and her past and how they are interweaved. What lessons can she learn from her life so far to decide what’s best for her future?

Kitty grew up alone with her sick father who may have had a weak body but whose spirit was never broken and he always taught Kitty one thing: that she is just as good as everybody else – the rich people in Philadelphia whom she admires are in no way better than her and that she can achieve anything she wants. Ginger Rogers shows her closeness to her father and the things he taught her by making Kitty a very strong and self-confident character who isn’t afraid to open her mouth and say what’s on her mind. She makes Kitty a pretty no-nonsense character who knows who she is and that she is worth just as much as everyone else.

Ginger Rogers is able to survive a very mediocre movie with a dated, sometimes silly and over-the-top script and deliver a strong and memorable performance that carries the movie beautifully and makes even the most awkward scenes work. She is also able to turn Kitty into her own person – the story basically tells the viewer that Kitty isn’t worth anything without a man by her side but Ginger Rogers still creates a Kitty that isn’t defined by men but who only defines herself.

Still, love and men are the center of Kitty’s life which is a story of love found and lost with Wyn and of love found and lost with Mark, a doctor who is crazy about Kitty but she is never as crazy about him as she is about Wyn. Ginger’s chemistry with her co-stars works very well and Ginger is able to get the most out of her character. She never overdoes the dramatic moments of the script but keeps her performance very subtle and in tone with her character. What works best about this performance is that Ginger Roger never tries to get the audience’s sympathy but instead shows her as a woman who will never give up – and who doesn’t care about what others think..

Ginger Rogers’s best scenes come when her character is at it’s lowest: when she has to defend her marriage with Wyn to his parents or decides to have a baby without a man or when she hears some terrible news in a hospital. Ginger portrays the low points in Kitty’s life beautifully without ever forgetting that Kitty is a fighter who is never beaten but always keeps going according to her own rules. The greatest and most unforgettable moment in her performance comes when she meets Wyn’s new wife and his little son who could have been hers: the look on her face, full of heartbreaking sadness and memories of a lost life, is just wonderful but again Ginger Rogers doesn’t rest on the sentimentality of the moment but instead uses it to show the growth in her character.

Ginger Rogers certainly proved her talent with her performance even though the weakness of the movie more than once harms the overall effect of her work. Still, she makes Kitty a loveable, sassy, out-spoken and honest character with a big heart and also a lot of pride and for this, she gets

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