Dreamboat (1952): Comedy Starring Clifton Webb and Ginger Rogers

This comedy stars British actor Clifton Webb as a college professor with a hidden past, who becomes engaged in a peculiar romance with Ginger Rogers.

The respectable lives of Professor of English literature Thornton Sayre (Webb) and his daughter Carol (Anne Francis) are disrupted when it is revealed that he was once a matinee idol called “Dreamboat.”

His films are shown on a TV show hosted by his former co-star Gloria Marlowe (Rogers). The college administrators hope for his resignation, but its President Mathilda May Coffey (Elsa Lanchester) requests the power to decide his fate.  In private, she admits to Thornton that she had been one of his biggest fans.

Thornton leaves for New York to get injunction against the show, where he meets Sam Levitt (Fred Clark), the exec who airs his movies.

Meanwhile Sam asks Bill Ainslee (Jeffrey Hunter) to show Carol the city sights, and the two begin a romance.

Thornton eventually gets his injunction, but his life is by now forever changed–and beyond his control.  He is fired from school after spurning Coffey’s advances, and Bill and Carol, now in love, plan to get married.

Thornton reveals to Gloria that a movie studio is interested in reviving his film career. Months later, Bill and Carol attend Thornton’s premiere in “Sitting Pretty,” a real, most commercial film starring Clifton Webb. Gloria then confesses that she has bought his contract and is now his boss.

This modest black-and white is a minor vehicle—B-picture—for both Webb and Rogers. It’s meant to be a sharp satire of the early days of TV, but the jokes are mostly lame.

The film featured the 1936 “Poincian,” written by Nat Simon and Buddy Bernier). It was later sung by many artists and used in Eastwood’s the 1995 film “The Bridges of Madison County.”