Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Rafter Romance (1933)

RAFTER ROMANCE is a cute little pre-Code comedy starring Ginger Rogers and Norman Foster as a couple who fall in love not knowing they are also roommates.

The characters' unusual living situation is the inspiration of a kindly landlord (George Sidney). It's the Depression, and Mary (Rogers) and Jack (Foster) are each having trouble paying their rent, so the landlord helps them make ends meet by fixing up an attic apartment which belongs to Mary from 8:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. and is Jack's the other 12 hours of the day. Jack's a night watchman who's an artist by day, so it's a perfect arrangement.

The story is sort of a reverse of the later film THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER and its many remakes, where a couple don't like each other "in person" but fall in love via their letters. In this case, the couple love each other when they meet, but don't care for each other's living habits; rather than love letters, they constantly leave each other notes of complaint.

The film is not especially noteworthy, but -- as with so many other half-forgotten films of the era -- it provides a pleasant evening's entertainment.

Ginger is lovely, and it's easy to see why she became such a big star. Later the same year saw the release of her first film with Fred Astaire, FLYING DOWN TO RIO. The glimpses of early telemarketing are particularly interesting; Ginger's character makes sales calls for a refrigerator company whose owner is played by Robert Benchley.

Norman Foster was a busy actor in the pre-Code era. By the mid-'30s he had mostly stopped acting in favor of a career writing and directing. He had a very interesting career ranging from making CHARLIE CHAN and MR. MOTO films, to directing films in Mexico in the '40s, to a long TV association with Disney, where he served as writer, director, and music composer on DAVY CROCKETT, ZORRO, and other programs. You can read a bit more about Foster and his fascinating family connections with Loretta Young and Ricardo Montalban in my posts on WEEKEND MARRIAGE (1932) and Ricardo Montalban.

George Sidney, who plays the landlord, was the uncle of longtime MGM director George Sidney. Ferike Boros, who plays the landlord's wife, made 50 films in a 19-year period; she was the kind neighbor who babysat Ginger Rogers' "son" in BACHELOR MOTHER.

The cast also includes Laura Hope Crews as Jack's drunken would-be art patroness and Guinn Williams as a cabbie who is protective of Mary. Ellen Corby can be briefly glimpsed in a couple of scenes as one of Ginger's coworkers. This was Corby's first film credit on the way to a screen career which lasted for over six decades, with her most notable role, of course, being that of Grandma Walton.

RAFTER ROMANCE was directed by William A. Seiter. It runs 73 minutes.

RAFTER ROMANCE was restored as part of the six-film "Lost and Found" series on Turner Classic Movies. In 1937 the film was remade as LIVING ON LOVE, which was also part of the Lost and Found collection.

RAFTER ROMANCE is available on DVD in the TCM Vault Collection. Extras include the trailer and production stills.


Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

I liked this film. And I agree that Ginger Rogers is quite enjoyable. But I have to say, I liked Living on Love (1937) more! Have you seen it?

6:01 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Raquelle,

I haven't seen LIVING ON LOVE yet. At the time it first aired on TCM I read a couple unenthusiastic reviews, so I only recorded the original, but your recommendation makes me interested in checking it out for myself! I'll watch for it so I can record it the next time it airs on TCM.


6:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older