Vivacious Lady (1938)
Description: James Stewart and Ginger Rogers were an item when Vivacious Lady was filmed, and their obvious real-life affection for one another pours over onto the screen. Stewart plays Peter Morgan, a young botany professor who while on a visit to New York impulsively marries free-spirited nightclub singer Francey (Rogers). A few obstacles lie in the path of connubial bliss, however, including Peter's bitchy ex-fiancee Helen (Frances Mercer) and his stern college-dean father Peter Morgan Sr. (Charles Coburn). Hoping to break the news of his marriage gently to Helen and his father, Pete contrives to keep the union a secret, with the expected embarrassing results. Before the final fade-out, both Morgan Senior and Morgan Junior are on the outs with their respective wives, and it takes an uproariously tearful reunion on a passenger train to straighten things out. In his first outing as a producer, director George Stevens shows off his two-reel-comedy training with a number of hilarious comedy setpieces (the best is a slapsticky cat-fight between the two rivals for Pete's affections), though things tend to slow down towards the end. Stevens also finds room for several of his favorite character actors, including Grady Sutton, Franklin Pangborn and Willie Best, to do their time-honored specialties. Best of all is Beulah Bondi as James Stewart's mother (one of several such assignments), delivering a most unusual and touchingly funny performance. In short, Vivacious Lady was a guaranteed box-office smash even before the cameras began to turn.~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
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