patrick mcgilligan

Ginger Rogers by Helen Montgomery-Drysdale.

“Hers was a physical quality at heart: svelte, ageless, inviting, plain but fancy. She was the woman with schoolgirl eyes and a vanilla smile. She was the woman who somehow combined an old-fashioned look with a hep-cat style.”

“The irony in this tinsel-town pigeon-hole is that Ginger Rogers never really withered, as the studios expect and demand of their femme players. She aged slowly, imperceptibly, gracefully, staying radiant and beautiful and, yes, youthful well past her supposed prime. The unconscious irony, for example, of a film like ‘Forever Female’ is that Rogers – of whom character after character remarks upon her supposed physical decline – looks ravishing and behaves with her usual juvenile bounce. There was something about this actress, something in the core of her popularity, which suggested the eternal verities of youth.”

“Her image, her memory, is nostalgic, rooted in the past. Fixed in the consciousness of the nation is the recollection of an instinctual, artless actress – an engaging singer-dancer, a light tragedienne and a sprightly comedienne – of redoubtable gifts. She was a strong, resourceful, and enchanting heroine of the ilk which seems nearly and sadly extinct. She somehow transcended prim little categories. She survived her often-dismal filmic environment with miraculous, but still human, agility. The synthetic and the sanguine struggled with the genuine and the restless. One element crashed against another in the person of Ginger Rogers, and in the still-resounding reverberation, filmgoers can discern an artist of insight, talent and honesty. She remains vividly alive for moviegoers. More than four decades have passed since she made her debut, but her image endures: independent, down-to-earth, spunky, and forever glamorous in blue jeans or satin gown. No matter the passage of time. She is a memory that extends beyond the years, beyond the movies, into the collective soul of a nation.”

– Patrick McGilligan, Ginger Rogers, 1975.