Vivacious Lady (1938): Charming Romantic Comedy, Directed by George Stevens and Starring Jimmy Stewart and Ginger Rogers

This charming romantic comedy of manners, directed and produced by George Stevens, pairs James Stewart with Ginger Rogers, who show strong chemistry, perhaps because they were dating at the time.

Jimmy Stewart plays Peter Morgan, a shy botany professor who while on a visit to New York impulsively marries free-spirited nightclub singer Francey Brent (Rogers).

Among the problems he has to face are his bitchy ex-fiancée Helen (Frances Mercer) and his stern college-dean father Peter Morgan Sr. (Charles Coburn).

Hoping to break the news of his marriage gently to Helen and his father, Pete contrives to keep the union a secret, resulting in various complications and some embarrassing moments

Stevens shows off his comedy background with a number of hilarious comedy set-pieces, including a slapstick cat-fight between the two rivals for Pete’s affections.

The superlative supporting cast includes Grady Sutton, Franklin Pangborn, and Willie Best. Beulah Bondi again excels as Stewart’s mother, delivering a touching performance.

 

Oscar Nominations: 2

Cinematography: Robert de Grasse

Sound Recording: John Aalberg

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

Joseph Ruttenberg won the Cinematography Oscar for “The Great Waltz,” and Thomas Moulton the Sound Award for “The Cowboy and the Lady.”

This was the only Oscar nomination for photographer Robert de Grasse, one RKO’s top craftsmen, who also shot “Alice Adams,” “Stage Door,” “Carefree,” “Bachelor Mother,” and “Kitty Foyle,” which won Ginger Rogers a Best Actress oscar.

Credits

Running time: 90 minutes.

Directed by George Stevens

Written by P. J. Wolfson

Released: May 13, 1938

RKO