I Saw a Film!
While it’s easy to dismiss the philosophical underpinnings of these sorts of romances, in which a mature fella falls for a youthful maiden half his age, there is something refreshing in the non-judgmental attitude in the story of a pure budding friendship. Our main protagonists meet on a whim, and like so many of these sorts of moments of sweetness between strangers, most often a fleeting few, we get to partake of the fantasy of what could be possible between a tired salaryman and a young woman still full of the vigor of life’s possibilities. Her earnestness, flexibility, and of course, Cissy (she used both S and C) Spacek beauty, make everything she says seem a bit more wise. Especially if you’re a member of a generation that could be termed “beaten”. Luckily they don’t really have her babbling anything really objectionable, room for a comic version, some might say a bit more realistic one, could really have fun with. The couple have some fun tossing pictures of past loves on the fire and dedicating themselves to the promise of the future.
Wanting someone is no crime, Ginger tells our salaryman played by TV stalwart Monte Markham, and everything goes swimmingly between our newly established buddies until a third wheel arrives and manages to spoil everything – as is so often the case in real life. Fantasies, even ones that really were unlikely to begin with, often feel utterly derailed by carelessness and anxiety. In this case our salaryman is overheard talking stupidly with a lout, trying desperately to get rid of the fool, so he can continue with his dreamy relationship with the young lady. It is, of course, foiled, as Ginger’s feelings are injured and the spell of growing romantic love is broken. It also turns out she’s pregnant with her former beau’s baby. All this on New Year’s Eve!
That’s the basic set up and one mourns for the new couple’s loss of what could only be a remarkable happy accident. The rest of this film becomes more about the difficulties and structure of relations between men and women, women and women, and men and men in general. We don’t get to see too much into Ginger’s poetic mental journal, but we are taken on an unabashed, though quite innocent and juvenile, wander and party with the two fellows. They don’t really get into much trouble, and no one is hurt, but they are intoxicated in public and the law, deftly inserted by Slim Pickens, who might as well have played every country sheriff in every movie as far as I’m concerned, has to intervene. Salaryman’s friend arrived, we find out, because he too was lonely on his birthday.
I am partial to these sorts of tales of simplicity and no killing. No one has to brandish a firearm, and no one has to die. The ladies discuss relenting and being the bigger party in the endless firestorm between the formerly married couple (buddy of salaryman and his former wife). And what follows may make modern audiences cringe, we’re waiting for the fist fight (and there is a short silly one), but the fact of the matter remains that reconciliation, what this movie wants to focus on, requires a shelving of the weaponry and a willingness to be a tad vulnerable. Let’s be honest, it’s not a normal movie trope. And so it feels awkward and more fantastic than rappelling ninjas, but the fact remains that these are normal people and they sort of have to find a way to get along if only to raise some kids.
Ginger however, despite her Tibetan-like wisdom for nearly everyone else (we all know what everyone else should do!), has not forgiven her new beau and decides to run off on a bus, leaving the salaryman moping in disappointment. It’s a romantic film and so our hero runs after her, chases the bus and getting on, tries to reconcile with her to no avail. This part, ends up looking too desperate and not cute enough. Ginger is too stubborn and signals a kind of red flag for a woman who could not forgive what was clearly a man talking in dumb man-talk to another man in order to restore the magic and trampled privacy in which the new couple could explore. She should have been impressed with his desire to do whatever it took to continue their fun.
This runs free on Prime (usa) and just goes to show that we’ve never really had solutions to any of these difficulties, they more or less make the same films over and over again and call them Rom-Coms. This old movie, appealing as it is, has the same ending as the old Star-Spangled Girl with Sandy Duncan, which I watched recently, but the truth is a man having wounded a woman is forced to chase and debase himself and this is considered a foundation of romantic principle.