Friday, March 4, 2011
Ginger Rogers Film Review #6: The Tip-Off
Run Time (approximate): 71 minutes.
Directed by: Albert S. Rogell.
Produced by: Charles R. Rogers.
Associate Producer: Harry Joe Brown.
Screenplay by: Earl Baldwin.
Based on a story by: George Kibbe Turner.
Also Starring: Eddie Quillan (as Tommy Jordan), Robert Armstrong (as Kayo McClure), Joan Peers (as Edna Moreno), Ralf Harolde (as Nick Vatelli), Mike Donlin (as Swanky Jones), Ernie Adams (as Slug McGee), Charles Sellon (as Pop Jackson), Helen (Cupid) Ainsworth (as Ethel Waddums), Luis Alberni (as Scarno (uncredited)), Harry Bowen (as Dude (Vatelli Henchman)(uncredited)), James P. Burtis (as Men's Room Patron (uncredited)), Frank Darien (as Edna's Uncle (uncredited)), Dorothy Granger (as Hatcheck Girl (uncredited)), Pat Harmon (as Vatelli Henchman (uncredited)), Jack Herrick (as Jack (Sparring Partner) (uncredited)), Ethan Laidlaw (as Henchman (uncredited)), John Quillan (as Scared Man at Scarno's (uncredited)), Charles Sullivan (as Chuck, Bouncer at Scarno's (uncredited)), and Harry Wilson (Hood at Scarno's (uncredited)).
Ginger's Character: "Baby Face"
Ginger 'Screen Time': approx. 16 min, 5 sec. (22.5% of the film)
Ginger Tunes: None
Gingery Goodness Factor (GGF) (1-10): (8.0) - ...NOW we're gettin' somewhere, baby! This is the first film that we can laud as allowing Ginger to be... well, GINGER, y'all! The role is quite 'feisty' as-is, and Ginger really begins to reveal some of her mannerisms, moves, and expressions which are the pure definition of 'Gingery Goodness'. She also uses her 'natural' voice, which was generally not the case in the Paramount films, save for "Queen High" and "The Sap from Syracuse", perhaps. The only thing missing was a tune from her, but otherwise a nice role for Ginger in her first RKO venture.
GingerFilm Ranking: #1 of (6) Reviewed
Film Quality (1-10): (8.5) - Overall pretty good, recorded from TCM.
Available From: TCM, eBay
Huey's Review for Gingerology: The Tip-Off is honestly Ginger's first role of 'substance', as she is given quite a few scenes to 'develop' her character, the awesomely feisty Baby Face.
The movie begins with radio store go-fer, Tommy (Eddie Quillan), getting tabbed for a 'house call' for radio repair. He shows up at the address, only to be herded into a sedan and driven to an undisclosed location. The house call ends up at the residence of a prizefighter, Kayo McClure (Robert Armstrong) - Kayo is out, but his main squeeze Baby Face isn't... she introduces herself in a MOST effective manner as Tommy is 'tracing lines' into her bedroom (that's what they ALL say, fella!). After barely escaping a dicey situation when Kayo arrives, he uses the wonders of technology to scare off some dudes who bust in and try to put the squeeze on Kayo - the goons are headed up by goodfella Nick Vatelli (Ralf Harolde). Kayo befriends Tommy for this feat, and gives him tix to some throw-down dancing shindig happening that evening... Well, Tommy shows up, as well as Baby Face, sans Kayo. Seems that Ms. Face is all hot and bothered due to Tommy, but he is pretty reluctant to hang with a prizefighter's girl...you know, the ol' "getting beat to an unrecognizable pulp if I catch ya with her" problem (folks, I'd have to think long and hard about this situation... wonder how fast the Kayo dude can run... it's like two folks in the woods when a bear charges them... one says, "We're dead! We can't outrun that bear!" The other says, "I don't HAVE to outrun the BEAR... I just have to outrun YOU!") OK - there's an old joke/rabbit trail for ya... MEANwhile, back at the ranch...
To elude Baby Face, Tommy grabs the closest female he can find unfettered... and wouldn't ya know it? It just happens to be Vatelli's Girl, Edna Moreno (Joan Peers) - of course, Tommy and Edna fall for each other, as she is looking to get away from Nick and Da Boys, but you just can't shake mobsters, ya know?
Tommy and Edna do make it back to Kayo's place, where he takes them in...but Babyface, seeing how the 'near miss' of Tommy's waxing went down at the Barn Dance, threatens to bail out on Kayo if they stay there... of course she doesn't, since the producer would be insane to remove Ginger from the proceedings at this point, right?
Well, Edna bails out instead, as she knows she is putting the others in danger by hanging with them... Tommy hunts her down after a few weeks, only to find she is marrying Nick that night... Tommy shows up at the joint where the nuptials are to go down, and Kayo follows behind as 'back-up', unbeknownst to Tommy... and, that is about as far as I'll get - save the rest for you to discover.
It is a neat little movie, although not too 'plot-twisting'... it clocks in at 70 minutes, which 90% of movies probably should, anyway. The cast works pretty well... in particular, Joan Peers, who played the role of the 'gangster's trapped moll' quite well... she did just a few movies, most of them silent, as a 'child actress'... not sure what happened to her, but she only made one more movie after this one. Sad - she was quite fetching.
As mentioned somewhere before, the 'cinematography' or whatever just works better here than in most of the Paramount films... RKO had the 'great white set' philosophy to enable sets to 'show up' crisper in black and white, and it seems pretty evident even in this film... lighter background, generally well-lit, etc... again, it probably stands out compared to the Paramount films since it has been restored...
Hopefully y'all can catch this one... TCM plays it once in a blue moon - GingerMarch had it... probably about time for it again - but not for the 'foreseeable future'. It's worth hunting down for the "GGF"!
Favorite Ginger Line(s) / Moment(s): Well, Ginger is pretty spunky throughout this one, but perhaps my fav scene is her initial one, where Tommy gets caught in her bedroom whilst repairing the phone wires - her entry is her most memorable one to date. She basically warms up to this young fellow in short order, while detailing how her man-friend Kayo likes to discombobulate any dude who looks twice at her... no wonder the dude has trouble putting one foot in front of the other throughout the movie! Dude probably needs to settle his nerves, as Baby Face tries to remedy here...
...but Tom lallygags in Baby Face's bedroom, and she stashes Tommy under the bed while Kayo enters and flaps his yap...
"...So your ma really freaked when they lightened up your hair, eh?..."
"...But ya know what? It's starting to grow on me...and Lelee isn't filing charges..."
...This is just a pretty cool 'cap', IMHO, during the 'bedroom' scene...just incredible eyes... 'bedroom eyes', perhaps? :-P
...Baby Face checking out Tommy - dude is in quite the conundrum... hang out with Ginger and get clocked, or...well, do nothing. I'd risk the clocking, as y'all have already guessed...
...Tommy running from Baby Face...there's just something inherently WRONG about a man running from Ginger... but this cap is interesting...for some weird reason, she reminds me of the lady from 'Sex and the City' here... Kim Kattrall - and I honestly know little or nothing about that show or person, other than for some reason, this reminds me of her... so there ya go.
...another note here - I dig the 'corsage' or whatever ya call the flower stuff on this dress - looks cool here, but it isn't 'overbearing' - OK, other than that, she is very cute here - I love her cute little rounded nose here (I am a big nose guy, as aforementioned...just one of those things) ...sigh...yupyupyup...
...dude comes to grips with his inevitable clocking, thus enjoys these few moments ...
...OK, I don't know much, but I DO know this...when Ginger a) has her hands on her hips, and b) has one eyebrow raised, someone is about to be toast...
...now BOTH eyebrows are raised...yup, DEFINITE toasting imminent...
...and there ya have it...she's beautiful when she's angry, at least while you are still conscious...
...But dude makes amends somehow, and makes it 'legal' with Ms. Face (BTW, are they in essence 'shacking up' in this movie? Not sure what the arrangements were, but hey, the Early 30's were a wild scene, man...if you remember it, you weren't there, y'know?)
...Baby Face and Kayo mourning Tommy... but in what sense? I'll leave that for y'all to figure out...
Other Reviews: "Eddie Quillan will crawl right under your skin like a pet habit... The feminine side is ably upheld by winsome Ginger Rogers and Joan Peers." -Motion Picture Herald
"The effervescent Mr. Quillan is completely amusing in this portrayal of starry-eyed innocence. Ginger Rogers makes a clever foil for the comedians in the role of Baby Face. Albert Rogell, the director, deserves a word for the smart pace of the story." -The New York Times
"Ginger Rogers is all that she should be as little spitfire 'Baby Face'." -Zit's Weekly
From Ginger: My Story: "In The Tip-Off, I was cast as the girlfriend of a prizefighter played by Robert Armstrong. I thought it was a pretty fair script for my initial appearance, and according to the New York Times, I made "a clever foil for the comedians in the role of Baby Face." Many reviews of The Tip-Off referred to me as a gangster's moll, but it was the other girl in the film, Joan Peers, who was the moll." (Kayo actually calls Baby Face the 'mouthpiece' of their 'gang').
--- Ginger's first film for what would eventually become RKO Studios.
--- Ginger's first film in Hollywood.
--- Ginger's first film with 'lighter' hair color - not without some 'initial' objection...
--- Robert Armstrong would gain fame not long after this film, as the 'promoter' in RKO's "King Kong".
--- The name of the 'roadhouse' which Nick and Edna are to be married was noted in dialogue as "Sarno's", but the actual sign on the building had it spelled "Scarno's".
--- Working titles for the film included 'The Lady Killer' and 'Eddie Cuts in'; UK title - 'Looking For Trouble'.
GingerFilm 'rankings' through SIX reviews:
#1: The Tip-Off;
#2: Queen High;
#3: Young Man of Manhattan;
#4: The Sap from Syracuse;
#5: Follow The Leader;
#6: Honor Among Lovers.
Up Next: "Suicide Fleet" - Ginger's second RKO film, from my memory, didn't have nearly as much 'Gingery Goodness' as The Tip-Off, but we'll hash it out... Robert Armstrong appears again, along with James Gleason and Bill Boyd, as three sailor dudes who all fall for the same gal (Ginger, natch), but all end up on a secret and dangerous mission against Germany - who will survive to return to Sally?