August 2, 2021
Kitty Foyle (1940)
Grade: 52/100

Director: Sam Wood
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Dennis Morgan, James Craig

What it's about. Ginger Rogers plays the title character, a young single woman earning a respectable living as a store clerk in New York City. Her snow globe and her reflection in the mirror inform us of her past. She is from Philadelphia, where she lived a lower middle class existence with beloved but alcoholic father Ernest Cossart.

She is employed as a secretary by Dennis Morgan, a fun-loving but irresponsible single young man. He pursues her and she is willing, but she doesn't like his snobbish and humorless family, no matter how wealthy they might be. Pop finally kicks the bucket, and Rogers moves to New York, taking us to the present day.

Because it is a movie, Rogers ends up with dates at midnight with two different men: James Craig, a ridiculously nice doctor intent on immediately marrying her, and Dennis Morgan, who has arrived from Philadelphia to take her on a cruise to South America. Never mind that he has left a wife and child behind.

Gladys Cooper shows up briefly as Morgan's imposing mother. Eduardo Ciannelli plays a sentimental restaurant owner and the only Herbert Hoover supporter in New York.

How others will see it. Kitty Foyle was the biggest RKO feature of 1940. The film was popular with the critics as well. Rogers won an Academy Award for Best Actress, and the movie was also Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay (Dalton Trumbo). Trumbo's adaptation successfully tamed the sensational aspects of Christopher Morley's source novel.

Today at, the movie has a middling 6.9 (out of 10) user rating, which rises to 7.4 among women over 45, who admire Kitty's pluck. One suspects that the user reviews praise Rogers' performance while rolling their eyes at the Production Code's impact on the plot. The former is confirmed, but not the latter.

How I felt about it. Ginger Rogers has quite the star turn. She has to decide by midnight which man to be with: the doctor who wants to marry her, or the married and unemployed dilettante who wants her to become the "other woman."

But there is no suspense at all in Rogers' decision. It is dictated by the Production Code, which previously ensured that she would not have sex with either man outside of marriage, that her baby would be conceived within marriage, and that her baby would be carried full term. It is interesting that here, she loses a baby that is hers, while she keeps a baby that is not hers in Bachelor Mother (1939), made the year before. A movie that I liked better anyway, Academy Awards be damned.

In any event, there is not a snowball's chance in hell that Rogers will become Morgan's mistress instead of Craig's wife, no matter how twinkly Morgan's eyes might be. Although her judgment has already proved suspect. Once she is married to Morgan, why not keep him, and his money, and attend college in Philadelphia? Wouldn't it be much better than living without Morgan in New York City, and struggling to eke out a living peddling overpriced perfume to the impossibly vain and smug wives of wealthy husbands?

We must add that Rogers is unconvincing in the flashback scenes where she plays a minor, no matter how trim she has kept her figure. Likewise, Ernest Cossart (born in 1876) is too old to play the father of a teenager in a 1940 movie. Also, it is hard to believe that James Craig chooses his women based upon whether they are willing to play double solitaire card games with him for two hours on their first date.

What Rogers, Morgan, and Craig all have going for them is that they are likable. Since there are no cell phones in 1940, it looks like Morgan will be waiting at the dock a long time for Ginger Rogers. And it serves him right anyway, after his suggestion that she be boiled in oil.