“The Major and the Minor” is my third Ginger Rogers film; I’m really starting to like her! This movie, released in 1942, stars Ginger Rogers and Ray Milland, along with Diana Lynn, Rita Johnson, Lela Rogers, and Robert Benchley. It was remade in 1955 as “You’re Never Too Young” starring Jerry Lewis and Diana Lynn, only the positions are reversed. Also, this film was nominated for AFI’S 100 Years…100 Laughs, AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions, and AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes ("Why don't you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?"). It was also produced by Arthur Hornblow Jr. (Myrna Loy’s then-husband) and was a breakthrough for director Billy Wilder. This is a really entertaining movie and a great choice, especially for Ginger fans!
Susan Applegate (Ginger Rogers) lives in New York City, New York. She has recently (that morning in fact) started a job for a scalp treatment company. One of her first clients is Mr. Albert Osborne (Benchley). He, along with the elevator boy, finds Susan very attractive. When she gets to Mr. Osborne’s apartment, he insists on getting cozy with Susan instead of doing his treatment because he’s lonely on Wednesdays nights when his wife goes to drill classes. He offers her a martini ("Why don't you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?"), but she refuses and insists on getting down to business. She makes sure to brush his head extra hard (she doesn’t like that he’s hitting on her) and gives him an egg shampoo, slathering it down his face when he makes her angrier. He threatens to call and have her fired, obviously not enjoying have egg smothered across his head. Susan quite likes the sound of that; she hates her job and wants to go back home. She thought she wanted to get out of the small, ordinary town with nothing to do (and trust me, you do! I live in one myself, and it gets REAL boring after a while.) and give the big city a try. Well, she did! She’s had 25 jobs in the last year and she’s done! She’s going back to Stevenson, Iowa, with the $27.50 Will Duffy gave her for a train ticket when she left. Only one small problem: when she gets to the station, she learns they’ve raised the price of tickets. For anyone over twelve, a ticket costs $32.50 to get from NYC to Stevenson, Iowa. However, she notices the lady behind her has children under twelve riding for half price. And one of those children is a little girl of nine. Susan gets a ‘brain blast’ (Jimmy Neutron anyone? :D) and heads to the woman’s room. There she transforms herself from a young adult of maybe twenty-four to a young girl of eleven, going on twelve.
“Stevenson, Iowa. One half fare please. It’s for the kid.”
She hires a man to act as her ‘Daddy’ and buy her a train ticket to visit her grandma. However, he pockets the extra change ($16.25), giving her only a quarter to spend. She says good-bye to ‘Papa’ and boards the train. Susan is definitely playing her part; she’s singing “A Tisket, a Taskit” and playing with a balloon. Only until the conductors come by does she run into trouble. Not believing she’s really eleven, they start bombarding her with questions. Susan starts spewing out nonsense and creating reasons for why she looks much older than her ‘real’ age. She tells the men her family is from Swedish stock, and that she once heard of a five-year-old boy who grew a beard (among other things). Although they aren’t completely satisfied, the conductors leave Susan alone and move on. But they later catch her smoking out on the back of the train. Not realizing they had seen her, Susan puts her cigarette inside her mouth when the conductors come. She does pretty well at hiding the cigarette until they ask if she inhales when she smokes, at which points she spits the cigarette out into her handkerchief and runs through the train car, knocking down everything in her path. At one point she and the conductors run into an attendant. The first time Susan tries to slip into a room, she quickly exits because someone had occupied it. However, she soon finds one she thinks is empty. It isn’t until she’s inside and the conductors have passed that she learns someone does occupy the car. This someone is Major Philip Kirby (Milland), who believes Susan is actually eleven. Susan tells him he can call her Su-Su (Su-Su will represent her being eleven here, Susan will represent her as her normal age). He keeps trying to call the conductor to help her find her car and get back to where she’s staying, but she claims she is afraid of the conductor, causing him to decide she should just stay in his car. Su-Su refuses, knowing it would be wrong (even though he doesn’t know it). Major insists and Su-Su finally relents. There’s a storm in the middle of the night and lightning strikes, awakening her and causing her to bump her head on the bed above her’s. This awakes Philip and he thinks Su-Su is afraid of the storm. So he pulls her close to him and does his best to calm her down and put her back to sleep. This freaks Su-Su out even more because, again, it’s not appropriate. She finally pretends to fall asleep so he will go back up to his bunk. The next morning, Su-Su is all set to tell Philip that she’s not really eleven because she’s fallen in love with him. He goes off to get breakfast for her, so she uses this time to look more grown up. However, the train had been stopped (because of a flooded bridge) and Philip’s fiancée, Pamela Hill (Johnson), and commander, Pamela’s father, had come to retrieve him from the train. They don’t know of Su-Su, and so when Pamela walks in on Su-Su preparing herself, she assumes the worst and thinks Philip is cheating on her, spilling his tray and giving him a bloody nose when he meets her in the hallway. Philip decides he wants to clear everything up and takes Su-Su with him back to Wallace Military School, where Philip is in training. After everything is clear, Su-Su is taken to Pamela’s house to stay. There she meets Lucy Hill, Pamela’s wise sister who sees right through Su-Su right away. Lucy’s all in for keeping Susan’s secret if she helps her get Philip a position. Lucy explains that Pamela makes sure Philip never leaves the school to go to battle, and Lucy doesn’t like it. Susan agrees and the two become fast friends. Others who also take a fast liking to Su-Su are the young commanders-in-training at the school. They each have shifts to chaperone Su-Su. The first boy, Cadet Clifford Osborne, is the first to make a move on Su-Su. He starts explaining what seems to be a battle plan, but is actually a move and he kisses Su-Su. All the other boys attempt it as well. Philip had caught Clifford and Susan kissing and hadn’t felt comfortable, suggesting Pamela give her a talk about boys. Of course, Pamela doesn’t and leaves Philip to do it. So Philip sits Su-Su down for that talk. He tells her she’s like a light bulb and the boys are moths. The moths are attracted to the light bulb, or the boys are attracted to her. So she needs to put screens up or go inside to keep the moths away. Su-Su asks when she’ll be a grown woman and Philip tells her it’ll still be a while. However, he makes note that when he squints, he can almost see her as a grown woman (he doesn’t catch on very fast, does he? :D), making the situation very awkward after commenting on how good looking she is. That night, Lucy is helping Su-Su gussy up for the dance that night. A group of boys come singing to their window “Sweet Sue Just You” (familiar if you’ve watched ILL), and Lucy tells them they shouldn’t strain their vocal chords when their voices are changing. After arriving at the dance, Su-Su’s dance card is quickly filled up, but she manages to save one spot for Major Philip to sign. When she finishes dancing with Cadet Clifford, he insists on having her meet her family. There she runs into Albert Clifford, her scalp treatment client! He can’t quite place who she is and racks and racks his brain. His wife insists he doesn’t know her and tells him to forget about it. Su-Su finally gets to dance with Philip after Clifford and they agree to meet at the punch table at 10:45, after the dance. Su-Su is set on telling him who she really is. But with each other’s help, Pamela and Albert found out who Su-Su was. And Pamela has no intention of letting Susan come clean (she doesn’t want Philip to be deported, and wasn’t happy that Susan had pretended to be her to get him the job). So she tells Philip that Su-Su has a stomach ache and can’t make it, going there herself instead. She threatens to make sure Philip loses his job is Susan doesn’t keep out of Philip’s life. She is to go on the 11:40 train for Stevenson without saying any good-byes. And she is not to keep in touch with Philip. Susan relents, knowing she doesn’t want to be the cause for Philip losing his job. So she leaves, only saying good-bye to Lucy. A few days later, Susan is sitting in a hammock in Stevenson, Iowa, staring at moths around a light bulb (you just know she’s thinking of Philip). Will Duffy, whom she had promised to marry once she got back, gets agitated at her for ignoring him and throws a rock at the light bulb before storming off. The phone rings soon after and Susan’s mother (Lela Rogers, her real mother) predicts it to be Will calling from the phone on the corner. But it’s not; it’s Philip. He’s on his way to the west coast and wanted to stop by to give Susan a gift from Lucy. Susan, pretending to be Su-Su’s mother, makes up a quick lie. She shoos her mother off to the attic, deeming her the grandmother. Then she goes out to sit on the porch and take care of the fruit (because they make jam, among other things). After talking with Philip, she learns Pamela ended up marrying another man. Susan is delighted, but Philip has no intention of marrying; he thinks Pamela was right and doesn’t want to make a widow out of a wife. He leaves shortly after. Three minutes before his train pulls out at the station, he sees a woman out of the corner of her eye. He then figures out the truth, and the two board the train together.
I’m sorry this is really long! I don’t know why it is; maysbe because it’s such a good movie. Or maysbe I’m just elaborating too much. I tend to do that… Anyway! This is a really good movie. It’s my favorite of Ginger’s (even though I’ve only seen three). It’s on YouTube at the following address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyl9USrVk2I&feature=related