To Be A Kid Again!

The Major And The Minor (1942) 
A Review By Ben Hunter
4 Out Of 5 Stars

GET TO THE POINT BEN!

Though Ginger Rogers doesn’t pass for 12, Writer/Director Billy Wilder still pulls it off!

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$30 in 1942 is the equivalent of roughly $500 today (2015), and Susan Applegate (Ginger Rogers) has been saving up every penny!  She hates her job as a scalp massager, living in the big apple, living life in the fast lane to “make it big”.  All it takes is one more push to send her over the edge.  Another day on the job, hating life, a customer makes a pass at her and that’s it!  She’s going back home to the midwest to live a more peaceful and quiet life.    

On this fateful day of decision, she has just over $27 saved up.  Just enough for a ticket home … or so she thinks.  Little does she know that the American railways have increased their pricing and Susan needs a little more than $30 now.  Of course she learns this while at the station.  It is the 40’s, there is no internet.  

Distraught with disappointment of not retreating to heaven (home) to see her mother once more, she notices a little girl with her mother in her “12 year old get up”.  The light bulb now goes off!  Susan recedes into the bathroom with her suitcase, reduces her make up, adding a couple freckles, replaces her heels for flats, readjusts her skirt, braids her hair into pigtails, and steals the 12 year old’s balloon to become “Su Su” for short and be able to purchase a ticket at half fare for an 11 year old … “12 next week!”

Ginger Rogers (L) convincing co-star Ray Milland (R) that she's not just youthful at heart.
This was little acclaimed director Billy Wilder’s American directorial debut.  He wanted a mainstream comedy to kickstart his career as a solid basis to commence forward.  After meeting with Wilder, Rogers knew he’d be perfect to direct her.  She had choice of director and script after having just won an Oscar.  She said he was a charming European gentleman who definitely knew how to pay attention to a woman.  In her heart she knew they’d work well together and her, along with others, never felt like Wilder was a neophyte to the craft.  

I really enjoyed the chemistry between Rogers and her co-star Ray Milland (Winning an Oscar alongside Wilder for hisThe Lost Weekend, and shifting faces with Alfred Hithcock’s Dial M for Murder).  The subtle nuances exchanged between the two deem appropriate for the relationship of a major and a minor.  Yet opening the door enough for the woman that is Applegate to give her heart to the man who’s been on the look out for her well being since they bump into each other once on the train.  Charismatically done with Wilder and his writing partner Charles Brackett whom the duo had collaborated on 8 screenplays prior to Minor.  The two were eager to pitch their remake of the Paramount owned screen rights of the play “Connie Goes Home” to Rogers whom Wilder thought this was the perfect vehicle for her.  

Though, in my honest opinion, Rogers truly doesn’t pass for 12, this is still a story that lets the laughter organically nurture the heart and allot felicity in the nature.  Thus winning you over to enjoy its true delight.  Delight that has stood the test of time, decade after decade!

The Major and The Minor
Comedy, 101 Minutes, Not Rated
Based on the Play “Connie Goes Home”
By: Edward Childs Carpenter
Screenplay By: Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett
Directed By: Billy Wilder
Cast: Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland, Rita Johnson, Diana Lynn, & Robert Benchley

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