Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Having Wonderful Time (1938)

Ginger Rogers plays a secretary who shares a crowded Bronx apartment with her parents and her sister's family. She saves for a two-week vacation at a Catskills resort, and thanks to meeting camp staffer Douglas Fairbanks Jr., she is soon HAVING WONDERFUL TIME.

The film calls to mind later summer resort romances, such as TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE (1950) and DIRTY DANCING (1987). HAVING WONDERFUL TIME is a lightweight, somewhat awkwardly constructed film, buoyed by several sunny, outdoorsy scenes filmed on the shores of Big Bear Lake, California, and by its large cast of familiar faces.

Several of Rogers' STAGE DOOR costars appear in the film, including Eve Arden, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, and Jack Carson. (Arden, with a strange New York accent and a vocabulary filled with the biggest words possible, is particularly amusing.) A young Richard "Red" Skelton plays the camp activity director, and if you don't blink you'll see Dean Jagger in an early scene as Ginger's brother-in-law. Lee Bowman, Donald Meek, Grady Sutton, Frances Gifford, Inez Courtney, Russell Gleason, Florence Lake, and Juanita Quigley are some of the other names in the large cast.

The movie was released a couple months after Ginger's film VIVACIOUS LADY (reviewed here) and a few months prior to Fairbanks' THE YOUNG IN HEART (reviewed here). Ginger is very enjoyable as hardworking, somewhat innocent Teddy, who plays a mean game of backgammon. Fairbanks is equally fine as the young lawyer who dreams of landing a better job; the scene where he races into Lee Bowman's cabin to save Ginger's virtue is the funniest moment in the movie.

HAVING WONDERFUL TIME was directed by Alfred Santell. It runs 71 minutes.

This movie has had a video release but may not be easily available. It has not yet been released on DVD. It can be seen on TCM.

The trailer can be seen here.

April 2009 Update: HAVING WONDERFUL TIME is now available on DVD via the Warner Archive.

January 2017 Update: My review of the Warner Archive DVD is here.


Blogger Irene said...

This sounds like a fun movie. One that I never heard Lucille Ball was in ... I thought I knew all her films. Neither the LA County library system not Long Beach library system have this video :(

I just watched over the weekend Nancy Goes to Rio and I agree that Carmen Miranda was something else. I also saw Forsaking All Others. Now that was a strange, quirky film. Never much liked Joan Crawford but I loved Clark Gable in this.

I have 5 videos on order currently at the library of movies that you've reviewed :)

11:24 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

"I have 5 videos on order currently at the library of movies that you've reviewed :)"

That's very flattering, I hope you like them, Irene!

I agree, I've never been a Crawford fan but I've started watching some of her movies just because I like the other actors in the movies. So far THE LAST OF MRS. CHEYNEY and NO MORE LADIES are my favorites.

Best wishes,

11:40 AM  

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