Kitty Foyle on TCM: Ginger Rogers said what?!?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by SteveSs, Aug 25, 2004.

  1. SteveSs

    SteveSs Stunt Coordinator

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    So, the family and I are watching Kitty Foyle on TCM the other night. Filmed in 1940, Ginger Rogers won an Oscar for her role in this film. There's a scene midway thru the film where she has just lost her job and her boss has offered to keep her on the payroll until she can find something else. She refuses, saying that she won't have trouble finding a job, because she is "young, white, and single." I looked at my wife and daughter and they both had that deer-in-the-headlights look. Did we hear that line correctly?
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I don’t remember the line Steve, but I’m sure that you heard correctly.

    There were many, many lines (and visual images) back then that would not pass any kind of ‘political correctness’ test today. And indeed many that make us uncomfortable, seen today.
     
  3. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Older films perfectly capture the world that was back in the day. That's why I have a problem calling films racist, simply because they don't fit the terms of today. When a film gets labeled racist it usually means we might not ever see it released today. I mean, THE BIRTH OF A NATION couldn't get shown in one theater, one man stopped the Charlie Chan films plus the whole SONG OF THE SOUTH issue.

    There are probably thousands of films that don't meet today's standards but this certainly isn't a reason to label one or two here and there. TBOAN always takes heat but there are more films out there dealing with the same subject. The Chan films are owned by Fox and have a fairly strong cult following so they are attacked. Smaller, Monogram Chan films usually aren't mentioned when these debates heat up. Mr. Moto, FuManchu (played by Karloff and Chris Lee) aren't ever brought up.
     
  4. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    From what I've heard from people who lived in those times, "young, white, and single" was a reasonably common expression back then. People didn't think the same way back then as people today, and what is a disturbingly racist remark now was just another bit of casual slang a few decades ago.
     
  5. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Another thing that you'll hear quite a lot in films in the 30s and 40s is something along the lines of "that's mighty white of you". While it's clearly inappropriate by today's standards, it was probably thought of by most using it as no different than saying "green with envy". That's not to say it wasn't racist, but it was more a reflection of how racist society was then, that people would use it without thinking. I'm pretty sure given some of the films I've seen it in, that most of the people saying it weren't trying to be racist when they did so.
     
  6. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Yes, what's shocking to today's sensibilities wasn't a big deal then. It's interesting how things change over the years. I remember a scene in 1959's The World, The Flesh, and The Devil where Inger Stevens' character says to Harry Belafonte's character "I'm free, white, and over 21". Belafonte's character talks about how the phrase cuts through him.
     
  7. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Another common expression of the times (espcecially with regard to women) was "free, white and twenty-one". Neither this nor "young, white and single" was necessarily an endorsement of racism, they were more like acknowledgments of it. A woman who was "free" (unmarried, or in its earliest form, neither enslaved nor indentured), "white" (not subject to the prevailing prejudices) and "twenty-one" (over the age of majority, not legally subject to a parent's control, able to enter into contracts) was describing her condition, not bragging about it. That was the reality of the times and the language and culture reflected it.

    (And "mighty white of you" referred to white as a symbol of purity, if memory serves, not "race" or skin color. So it wouldn't have been a matter of unconcious racism, but of no racist componet for anyone to be concious of - although today such an association would be assumed and the phrase has rightly been dropped. Compare how an archaic word for "cheap", "niggardly", which bears only a coincidental resemblance to a certain other word, almost got a city council member thrown out of office when he used it with reference to a budget meeting.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  8. MatthewA

    MatthewA Lead Actor

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    I'm glad to see that somewhere in the world there is sanity regarding these issues.
    Now, I'm going somewhere to shout a string of offensive remarks. [​IMG]
     
  9. BarryR

    BarryR Supporting Actor

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    Thank goodness I disconnected my "Politically Correct Meter" a long time ago. I enjoy alot more movies that way.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. SteveSs

    SteveSs Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm not the least bit offended by lines such as these. But I am surprised when I hear them. This was my parents generation (I'm 47), and it doesn't seem to represent what I heard growing up. But then again my folks made it a point to never tell the kids anything, so maybe we were isolated. I think that was the trend back then.
     
  11. Timothy Rigney

    Timothy Rigney Auditioning

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    I was slightly taken aback by it too; in fact, to the point where I did a Google search for it and found this discussion about it.
    There's also a line later on where Kitty Foyle indicates that "at least there's no problems concerning [she and Win] being of different
    color." But I'd like to point out that these may very well have been attitudes that would have been commonly-held by "people from Grisham
    Street in Philadelphia" back then - as well as by people from Wyn's neck of the woods.
    Seen in another light, the film is, after all, about prejudice - the prejudice that "people from opposite sides of the tracks shouldn't marry."
    The whole "The Outsiders" thing. I think it's intentionally-intriguing that the very problems that damn Kitty Foyle and Wyn are similar to
    problems which she and Wyn themselves help cause through their own personal prejudices. And didn't they help perpetuate those
    prejudices by letting the prejudices even bother them? After all, they had reservations *because of what people might think.*
    I think maybe they had to be "subtle" and "polite" in 1940 - I doubt people were looking to be preached at when another war was fast-
    approaching during a bad economy. Perhaps showing the prejudice in the first place was a way to politely get the idea across that it
    was a problem, without "shouting."
     

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