film festival:vivacious lady (1938)


There is something about winter nights that makes curling up under umpteen blankets to watch a film seem more desirable than almost anything else. Yes, even to a seasoned bon viveur like myself who usually would be dressing up to the nines and tottering to the pub to drink lots of beer and bat my eyelashes at boys. Hey, even partygirls need time to recharge. My tastes in films are nothing if not eclectic, but for pure comfort cinema I recourse to golden age Hollywood greats, which is how I found myself watching Vivacious Lady (1938).


Vivacious Lady stars one of my all time favourite Hollywood dudes, Jimmy Stewart (I am convinced I will marry the man who can do a good impression of him), in his usual role of nice-dude-constantly-getting-into-scrapes. pretty sure that’s how they figured out and wrote the character of Ross from friends, incidentally. He’s a professor at his douchebag dad’s university and falls in love with a tiny little blonde nightclub singer from the big apple, played by another favourite of mine, Ginger Rogers. They end up getting married, then he has to try and break the news to his family without them losing their shit.


Ginger Rogers is so obviously my homegirl. She always looks so cute and neat, but she comes out with some seriously pithy one liners, especially in this film, and there’s a brilliant scene with a seriously hammy catfight, both girls in ballgowns, where she still manages to basically look like a dainty little kitten. Even though she fully kicks ass.


These films are the cinematic equivalent of mashed potato. You know what’s going to happen; there’ll be misunderstandings, crossed wires, and eventually the guy will get the girl. They’re fun to watch because of the clothes (although I can’t be the only person who sits and watches them wondering what colour everything is, can I?), and the comedy is usually gentle, occasionally surprisingly peppery, but often will make you laugh out loud.


Would I watch films like this with anybody else? Probably not. My friends are mostly craft beer boys or super stylish modern women, who honestly would probably laugh at me for watching such marriage-plot style stuff, but Vivacious Lady was perfect day-off-in-pyjamas viewing for me. I just got cosy and watched my girl Ginger bond with Jimmy Stewart’s ma by sharing her cigarettes, and felt like maybe tarts with hearts can come out on top after all. Which is a fairly nice way to spend an hour and a half.


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