Sunday, February 13, 2011
Ginger Rogers Film Review #3: The Sap from Syracuse
Run Time (approximate): 88 minutes.
Directed by: A. Edward Sutherland.
Screenplay by: Gertrude Purcell.
Based on the play by: John Wray, Jack O'Donnell, and John Hayden.
Also Starring: Jack Oakie (as Littleton Looney), Granville Bates (as Nycross), George Barbier(as Senator Powell), Sidney Riggs (as Nick Pangolos), Betty Starbuck (as Flo Goodrich), Verree Teasdale (as Dolly Clark), J. Malcolm Dunn (as Captain Barker), Bernard Jukes (as Bells), Walter Fenner (as Henderson), Jack Daley (as Hopkins), Kathryn Reese.
Ginger's Character: "Ellen Saunders"
Ginger 'Screen Time': approx. 23 min, 30 sec. (26.7% of the film)
Ginger Tunes: "How I Wish I Could Sing a Love Song"
Gingery Goodness Factor (1-10): (6.0) - Ginger's first role of 'substance', as she plays an heiress who is about to get hosed out of her fortune, thus has some 'serious' scenes which Ginger performs quite well in... but the BIG issue I have with this movie is...there are basically NO close-ups of Ginger ANYWHERE...for example, the scene towards the end, where Littleton has to confess to Ellen he is not really an engineer, Ginger basically has her back facing the camera the WHOLE scene! It's like Mark Sandrich is let loose on the set! And with only one 'duet' she sings with Oakie, there's a bit lacking there as well... so overall, interesting to see Ginger's first 'semi-dramatic' role, but there could have been a WHOLE lot better scene layout or whatever... AND, check out the 'basic' mention of the film in Ginger's bio, as noted below... thus the 'low' grade here, Gingery-goodness-wise.
GingerFilm Ranking: #3 of (3) Reviewed
Film Quality (1-10): (5.0) - Somewhat rough... frame jumping, audio-video sync in spots, and a total video loss for 30 seconds about halfway through - some fuzziness as well... overall a pretty good candidate for restoration!
Available From: eBay, YouTube
Huey's Review for Gingerology: Ginger's third movie is a fair but predictable tale which ultimately revolves around her character, Ellen Saunders, and Jack Oakie's character Littleton Looney (Henceforth known as 'LL'). LL works on a construction team, and has some 'grandiose' ideas regarding his current and future status... this comes to fruition when he inherits a pretty nice sum of clams from a recently expired relative. He quits the crew and decides to take a trip to Europe, where he can ultimately see the place where his 'mentor', Napoleon, roamed the earth. His bosses...well, ex-bosses... decide to have a bit of fun by 'broadcasting' that LL is actually a famous engineer and is traveling 'incognito'. Thus, LL gets the royal treatment when he climbs aboard - he just figures that is the way ALL folks are treated on ships, as this is his first voyage - thus he is oblivious to the 'prank'. Ellen, meanwhile, is headed to Macedonia (pretty much modern-day Greece) to try to get her inherited mines cooking again; they have to turn a profit soon, or they will be 'taken over' by her swine-like 'guardian', Nycross (Granville Bates).
Of course, we HAVE to get these two together, right? :-) The meeting of Ellen and LL lightens up the proceedings - she literally runs him over whilst chasing after a Macedonia map. From the scuttlebutt aboard the boat, Ellen is under the notion that LL is the engineer of the Erie Canal; LL is again pretty oblivious to it - he just wants to make Ellen happy, so he is pretty much of the mindset of "yeah, sure, whatever...just keep plowing over me on the promenade, sweetie..." - well, of course, the situation gets more and more sticky and the two fall more and more in luv... (Chevy Luv?...) until LL has to confess to Ellen that he isn't really the 'Uber-engineer' everyone thinks he is...and that's where I'll leave it... but just remember kids, it's not good to 'string along' a lie, even if you didn't 'start' it.
Favorite Ginger Line(s) / Moment(s): Well, the 'lifeboat' scene is really the most memorable, but it is dominated by Oakie, who does a fair job, and seems 'genuine' enough on film, thus pretty likeable. Kissing Ginger on the nose is cool - probably what I would do (I like noses...don't ask...:-] )
Honestly, that's about it - no real favorite 'line' from this one... the only other scene which is 'interesting' is when Littleton is walking down the deck and a map flies by him - as he goes to chase it, Ellen comes flying out of her door and tackles LL as he is picking up the map, about twenty yards downfield... but even this sequence is a bit 'clunky'... oh well...
Below is Ellen blessing out Mr. Nycross regarding his reluctance to her trip to the mines... he's lucky she didn't start throwing stuff at him...
...Ellen overhearing that "Uber-Engineer" is on board (unfortunately, NOT Huey...I am currently just a "quazi-uber-engineer-in-waiting"...)
Ellen and Littleton meet, post-collision...
..."Listen, I'm going to finish this book and go to sleep...so hush up!"
"Littleton...I'm over here, dude...quit watching those snail-eaters...you're just encouraging them!"
...Ah, to be stranded in a dinghy with Ginger... a smooch on the snoot is called for!
"Miss Ellen, the Uber-Engineer is being summoned as we speak... we couldn't get Dr. Huey, but this other guy is the best we could spring for... but be wary of him, as he is prone to break out in song and attempt to kiss you on your nasal region..."
...and a 'close-up' of Ginger in slumber mode... foreshadowing the G-ology 'pic/header/avatar/logo', no doubt...
Other Reviews: "The love interest is Ginger Rogers, very competent ingenue. She is traveling to Macedonia to inspect her gigantic mining properties. She mistakes Oakie for a mining engineer or something of the sort and expects him to save her mines from the Octopodean clutches of her guardian." -Motion Picture Herald
"One of the saving graces of the picture is the charming personality of Ginger Rogers, whose performance is flawless in every detail. When Paramount aquired the services of this youthful stage star the studio scored a beat on other film producers. However, Miss Rogers is little known to Western film fans, but it is the prediction of the writer that she will soon become a popular screen player with the movie folks on the Coast." -Hollywood Daily Screen World
"Ginger Rogers gets her first real chance in this picture." -Zit's Weekly
From Ginger: My Story: "In May (1930) I was paired with Jack Oakie in The Sap from Syracuse. I played an heiress who has a shipboard romance with Jack. A. Edward Sutherland was the director."
--- An alternate title for the film is 'The Sap from Abroad', as it was feared that European filmgoers would not know where Syracuse (New York) was.
--- The only song in the film was "How I Wish I Could Sing a Love Song (in the copy I have seen, anyway); however, there are two other songs noted in various reviews, entitled "Ah, What's The Use" and "Capitalize That Thing Called IT".
--- It is noted that a copy of this film was set aside for restoration by the UCLA Film and Television Archives in 2000; hmmm...wonder if it is ready yet...Lauren? :-].
GingerFilm 'rankings' through three reviews:
#1: Queen High;
#2: Young Man of Manhattan;
#3: The Sap from Syracuse.
...remember, this is based SOLELY on the "Gingery Goodness Factor", and to a lesser extent the "Ginger Screen Time" and the "GingerTunes"...it's pretty 'subjective', but by no means all that scientific...