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HAVING WONDERFUL TIME (director: Alfred Santell; screenwriters: based on the play by Arthur Kober/Arthur Kober/Morrie Ryskind/Ernest Pagano; cinematographer: Robert DeGrasse; editor: William Hamilton; music: Roy Webb; cast: Ginger Rogers (Thelma ‘Teddy’ Shaw), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (Chick Kirkland), Peggy Conklin (Fay Coleman), Lucille Ball (Miriam ‘Screwball’), Lee Bowman (Buzzy Armbruster), Eve Arden (Henrietta), Dorothea Kent (Maxine), Richard ‘Red’ Skelton (Itchy Faulkner, Camp Social Director), Donald Meek (P.U. Rogers, Camp Owner), Jack Carson (Emil Beatty), Clarence H. Wilson (Mr. G), Allan Lane (Maxwell ‘Mac’ Pangwell), Grady Sutton (Gus), Shimen Ruskin (Shrimpo), Dorothy Tree (Frances), Leona Roberts (Mrs. Shaw), Harlan Briggs (Mr. Shaw), Inez Courtney (Emma, Teddy’s Sister), Juanita Quigley (Mabel, Emma’s Daughter); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; RKO; 1938)
“Loses some of its colorful Borscht Belt flavor, but the star power of Ginger Rogers keeps it diverting.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Broadway production ofArthur Kober’s “Having Wonderful Time” opened on Broadway in 1937 and the hit ran for 372 performances. It was a satire on middle-class Jewish New Yorkers who go upstate to the mountains on their vacations to meet the opposite sex. The film version as directed by Alfred Santell (“Winterset”/”People Will Talk”/”That Brennan Girl”) homogenizes the ethnicity (ordered to do so by the censoring Hays Office) and thereby loses most of its colorful Borscht Belt flavor, but the star power of Ginger Rogers keeps it diverting. It also features vaudeville slapstick comic Red Skelton in his first feature film role as a nervy comical camp social director.Kober cowrites the rom/com with Morrie Ryskind and Ernest Pagano.

Feisty Teddy Shaw (Ginger Rogers) is a hard working office typist living in the Bronx with her parents. On her two-week summer vacation the single gal decides to go to Camp Kare-Free, in the Catskill Mountains, where she will bunk with her friend Fay Coleman (Peggy Conklin), Screwball (Lucille Ball) and Henrietta (Eve Arden). While pretending to be a Park Ave. swell she meets rude poor boy waiter Chick Kirkland (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), a law student working as a camp waiter because he can’t get a lawyer’s job. Teddy at first finds him antagonistic and they get off on the wrong foot, but then the two fall in love when they come clean with each other. On the eve when the camp session is completing, Chick gets a little too aggressive for Teddy by propositioning her and she leaves him; to teach him a lesson she pretends to stay overnight in the cabin of eligible bachelor loverboy businessman Buzzy (Lee Bowman). In the morning her persistent but rejected businessman suitor from the city, Emil (Jack Carson), drives up in his fancy new car to take her home. But while all the parties concerned are in the dining hall, the jealous Chick punches out both Buzzy and Emil. He then proposes to Teddy and she gladly accepts.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”