Cast & Crew
Laura Hope Crews
At "Ye Eckbaum Arms," a Greenwich Village tenement, Eckbaum, the Jewish landlord, has an idea as to how two of his tenants, Jack Bacon and Mary Carroll, who each owe him three months rent, can continue to reside there: they can both rent the fourth floor attic, as artist Jack, who works as a nightwatchman, only requires the room during the day, which would allow unemployed Mary to occupy the room during the night. Jack and Mary, who have not met each other, object strenuously to the plan. Even though Mary soon gets a job with the Icy Air Refrigerator Company as a telephone solicitor, she returns home after her first day of work to find that Eckbaum has moved her things to the attic. She calls the arrangement vile and horrible, but as Eckbaum has already rented her old room, she is agrees to use the attic only between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. While waiting to occupy the room that evening, Mary sits outside a nearby delicatessen practicing her sales pitch and is spotted by Jack. Impressed by her looks, Jack flirts with her, unaware of her identity, then returns to his room, where he sees his new roommate's possessions. He berates Eckbaum and insults Mary, characterizing her as a small town spinster who came to Greenwich Village looking for romance. Mary overhears him outside the door and cries to Eckbaum's wife Rosie, then after Jack leaves, writes him a note asking him not to leave his pajamas all over the place. This begins an exchange of written insults and innuendos. At work, Mary's boss, H. Harrington Hubbell, tries to ask her to dinner, but she succeeds in slipping out. Later, she sits at the deli waiting to go up to the apartment when Jack comes by again. Anxious to impress her, he says his aunt owns a housing development and will probably buy at least six refrigerators. After they enjoy a romantic walk in the park, Jack gives Mary his telephone number at work, and they plan to meet the next evening at 6:30. The next day, when Hubbell asks Mary to go to dinner, she gives him an excuse and rushes home in the rain. She makes sure Jack is not in, then gets in the makeshift shower, which Jack, via an insulting note, claims to have fixed. The pail with holes that serves as a shower, however, falls on her head. In retaliation, she hangs his only suit in the shower, and later, after Jack comes in to dress, he turns on the shower and ruins his suit. Jack angrily puts on his overcoat over his shirt and underwear and goes to the tailor's across the street but finds it locked with a "back in 15 minutes" sign on the door. As Jack waits, Mary is getting soaked at the park from the storm. She goes to wait in front of the deli as he runs to the park, then leaves the deli right before he arrives there. The next day, he calls her at work, and she hangs up on him. When Hubbell invites her to see the Ziegfeld Follies that night, she accepts. Learning that Hubbell is her boss, Eckbaum lets her have her old room back to impress him, but when she says she does not live there and a drunk in the hall goes into the room after they leave, Hubbell gets the idea that she is the man's mistress. While Mary is busy deflecting Hubbell's romantic advances with help from taxi driver Fritzie, Jack saws through part of his bed to make it collapse on his roommate. Elise Peabody Worthington Smythe, an alcoholic older woman who is infatuated with him, comes to visit, and when she learns that a woman also lives there, she refuses to leave until she sees her. Jack leaves and runs into Mary, who tries to walk away. He convinces her to have dinner with him, and they reconcile over a Chinese meal. When Mary returns happily to her room, she is shocked to find Elise there, passed out. Mary sees Elise out, then flops on the bed and cries when it collapses on her. Later, Jack accompanies Mary to an office picnic. After they kiss in a rowboat, they hear the horn of the company bus and rush to try to get on before it leaves. Jack falls and sprains his ankle, forcing them to take a taxi into the city. Mary is surprised when they stop in front of her building, but helps Jack upstairs. Upon entering her own apartment, Mary realizes that Jack is the roommate she has grown to hate. When Eckbaum finds them together and berates them for being there at the same time, Jack realizes who Mary is, and they argue with each other about past events. Elise arrives hoping to take Jack away and gets into a name calling match with Mary. Hubbell then arrives just as Mary tears out. She cries outside and complains to Fritzie, who happens to be there with his taxi, about the "filthy, horrible, dispicable" man in her apartment. Having just seen Hubbell go in, Fritzie rushes upstairs and punches him. While Jack finds Mary again in the cab and apologizes, Elise helps Hubbell. Fritzie then comes outside after Jack, but Mary protects him, and Fritzie, seeing them kiss, drives them to the park. Watching them from his window, Eckbaum expresses pride on arranging their soon-to-be marriage.
Laura Hope Crews
Ben Hendricks Jr.
Merian Co. Cooper
H. W. Hanemann
John J. Hughes
Hugh Mcdowell Jr.
James B. Morley
Van Nest Polglase
In the same year that Ginger Rogers won an RKO contract and began her dancing partnership on film with Fred Astaire, she had the female lead in her new studio's comedy Rafter Romance opposite Norman Foster. Then married to Claudette Colbert, Foster would later wed Loretta Young's sister and emerge as a director of many films (including the 1943 Joseph Cotten/Orson Welles Journey into Fear) and television shows. He also served as a writer on many of his film projects. During his tenure as a leading man in films of the 1930s, he appeared in two other films with Rogers, Young Man of Manhattan (1930) and Professional Sweetheart (1933).
Director William A. Seiter also directed Rogers in Professional Sweetheart, Careless (1933), In Person (1935) and Roberta (1935). Rogers and Foster replaced Dorothy Wilson and Joel McCrea as his leading players in Rafter Romance.
Surprisingly for such an early film, Rogers is cast as a telemarketer (!), one named Mary Carroll who tries to sell refrigerators while living in a small Greenwich Village apartment. Habitually late in paying her rent, she is forced by her landlord (George Sidney) to share an attic apartment in twelve-hour shifts with Jack Bacon (Foster), a night watchman and aspiring artist. She lives there evenings, he during the day, and they have never seen each other. But even as the inadvertent roommates develop a strong antipathy, write caustic notes and play increasingly nasty practical jokes on each other, guess who meets cute and falls in love in the outside world?
Humorist/columnist/actor Robert Benchley plays Mary's boss, who takes an unwelcome romantic interest in her, while the delicious Laura Hope Crews (Gone with the Wind's Aunt Pittypat) is a rich patroness of the arts who has similar designs on Jack.
George Sidney, who specialized in ethnic Jewish characters and played Jacob Cohen in the long-running "The Cohens and Kellys" series of feature comedies, shares a curious scene with Sidney Miller, the young actor who plays his son. In what must be one of the earliest references in a Hollywood film to the rise of Nazism, the teen-ager is discovered drawing swastikas on the walls. Although the father is understandably upset, the boy naively refers to the symbol's early history as a sign of good luck. Today it seems shocking that, even at so early a date, the Nazi threat could have provided the basis for a comic scene involving Jewish characters.
With the freedom of pre-Code standards, the 22-year-old Rogers is allowed a titillating "strip" scene. Alone in the apartment, she removes her jacket to reveal that what had appeared to be a blouse underneath is merely a thin scarf that covers her breasts in front but leaves a bra-less view from the sides. There's even a below-the-thighs shot of lovely Ginger stepping out of her panties!
Rafter Romance was remade by director Lew Landers in 1937 as Living on Love - another entry in TCM's collection of "lost" RKO films.
Producer: Merian C. Cooper (Executive Producer) Alexander McGaig (Producer), Kenneth Macgowan (Associate)
Director: William A. Seiter
Screenplay: H.W. Hanemann, Sam Mintz, Glenn Tryon, from book by John K. Wells
Cinematography: David Abel
Film Editing: James B. Morley
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase, John Hughes
Costume Design: Bernard Newman
Cast: Ginger Rogers (Mary Carroll), Norman Foster (Jack Bacon), George Sidney (Max Eckbaum), Robert Benchley (H. Harrington Hubbell), Laura Hope Crews (Elise Peabody Willington), Guinn "Big Boy" Williams (Fritzie, aka Sunny), Sidney Miller (Julius Eckbaum).
BW-73m. Closed captioning.
by Roger Fristoe
[Editor's note: Rafter Romance was not viewed prior to the publication of its entry in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40. This entry was revised after a 2007 viewing of the film.] According to a February 1933 Film Daily news item, Joel McCrea and Dorothy Jordan were first slated to star in this picture. In June 1933, Hollywood Reporter announced that Lew Ayres was to co-star with Ginger Rogers. Modern sources add Wong Chung and June Gittelson to the cast and credit Bernard Newman as costumer, Mel Berns as make-up artist, and John Miehle as still photographer.
In 1937, RKO made a second version of John Wells's story called Living on Love. Although modern sources claim that three other films, the 1932 German production Ich bei Tag und du bei Nacht, the 1932 French production A Moi le jour, à toi nuit and the 1933 British production Early to Bed are also based on the Wells novel, these pictures are actually based on a screenplay by Robert Liebmann and Hans Székely. Their general plot lines are similar to the Wells novel, however.
In 2007, this film, along with five other RKO productions from the 1930s, was broadcast on the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable network, the first public showing of the picture in more than seventy years. For additional information on the TCM broadcast, please consult the entry above for Double Harness.