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Perfect Strangers

Perfect Strangers(1950)

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teaser Perfect Strangers (1950)

Perfect Strangers (1950) reunited Ginger Rogers with her Kitty Foyle (1940) co-star Dennis Morgan in a film adapted from the Ben Hecht-Charles MacArthur play Ladies and Gentleman which opened in New York in October 1939. That play had been based on an earlier Hungarian play, Twelve in a Box written by Lazlo Bush-Fekete. In the film, Rogers and Morgan play members of a murder trial jury who find themselves sequestered and fall in love. The problem is, he is married with two kids, and she is separated.

In the cast along with Rogers and Morgan was the always reliable Thelma Ritter, who came as close to stardom as a character actress can. Instantly recognizable and with a voice like rusty iron, she would appear in her best known film All About Eve (1950) the same year. Fans of The Flintstones, should look for Alan Reed, the voice of Fred Flintstone, as Harry Patullo. Margalo Gillmore, who played Mrs. Bradford, was an old friend of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, dating back to the 1920s when she was a member of the Algonquin Round Table; the famed New York group of writers, actors and artists including Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and Harpo Marx.

Despite the talent in Perfect Strangers, the critics were not impressed with the end result. The Rotarian magazine wrote that while "Documentation of how the U.S. jury system works is interesting - although hardly designed to incite confidence in it. [...] The love affair, however, lacks motivation and hence will not claim much of your sympathy." Bosley Crowther, in his New York Times review of the film, blamed both the screenplay by Edith R. Sommer and the original play by Hecht-MacArthur. Only the director received approval, "In spite of the weak script, [director] Bretaigne Windust has done the best with his batch of characters and has even projected some slight comment on jury duty out of a lot of cluttered gags. Jerry Wald, who produced for Warners, should thank him more than the writers, one and all." Crowther felt that Rogers and Morgan were "pretty dreary throughout the film" because they were "rather lightly and haphazardly mixed into the makings of this random little fiction without any real regard for their bright skills. And most of the humor in the offering-of which there is considerable, of a strictly byplay sort-derives from the incidental characters, not from the activities of the stars."

Although it could have been merely a publicity ploy, the studio trailer for Perfect Strangers featured Ginger telling moviegoers that she and Dennis Morgan had been searching for the right film to star opposite each other again after Kitty Foyle and Perfect Strangers was it. In England the movie was released as Too Dangerous to Love.

Producer: Jerry Wald
Director: Bretaigne Windust
Screenplay: Edith Oppenheimer; George Oppenheimer (adaptation); Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur (play "Ladies and Gentlemen"), L. Bush-Fekete (play)
Cinematography: Peverell Marley
Art Direction: Stanley Fleischer
Music: Leigh Harline
Film Editing: David Weisbart
Cast: Ginger Rogers (Theresa 'Terry' Scott), Dennis Morgan (David Campbell), Thelma Ritter (Lena Fassler), Margalo Gillmore (Isobel Bradford), Anthony Ross (Robert 'Bob' Fisher), Howard Freeman (Arthur Timkin), Alan Reed (Harry Patullo).
BW-85m.

by Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:
Crowther, Bosley "The Screen in Review; Dennis Morgan, Ginger Rogers Seen as 'Perfect Strangers,' New Bill at the Strand" The New York Times 11 Mar 50
The Films of Ginger Rogers by Homer Dickens
http://www.imdb.com
The Rotarian Jun 1950

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