And my getTV Rita Hayworth Blogathon Pick is… The Strawberry Blonde…
“The Jolliest Show this Side of the Naughty Nineties”
The Strawberry Blonde is one of ‘those’ movies that I remember so fondly from my childhood. I even remember twirling around my living room singing its signature song “And the Band Played On” incessantly after seeing it (probably to the chagrin of all my little friends)… The film was so engrained in my mind, that I waited patiently for it to finally be released on DVD, after which, I bought it immediately — and gleefully! So, why did The Strawberry Blonde resonate with me so much as a kid? Well, probably the same reason it resonates with me as an adult — it’s a charming, fun story, complete with some wonderful twists and even a ‘moral’ thrown in for good measure! Not to mention the simple fact that it features a wonderful cast of veteran stars and character actors: James Cagney, Jack Carson, Olivia de Havilland, Alan Hale, Una O’Connor — and, of course, the lovely Rita Hayworth.
The Strawberry Blonde marked a pivotal point in Hayworth’s career. Although her role in Only Angels Have Wings did garner the attention of fans and studio boss Harry Cohn, it was The Strawberry Blonde that drove Hayworth’s rise in popularity, making her quite a hot Hollywood commodity. The film marked the first time that Hayworth was seen as a redhead, and the first time (and probably the only time) that audiences could hear her real singing voice. Incidentally, we have “Oomph Girl” Ann Sheridan to thank for Hayworth’s shot at success, because the role was originally intended for Sheridan who refused to do the film due to a contract dispute with the studio.
That said, here’s a tribute ‘from the neighborhood boys’ to the lovely Rita Hayworth, who played ‘Virginia Brush’ aka the Strawberry Blonde…
Biff (James Cagney) and old-time friend Nick (George Tobias) reminisce about the ‘good old days’ while on the porch drinking birch beer…
Nick (George Tobias): Ah, she was a beautiful girl.
Biff (James Cagney): Who?
Biff: Now what made you bring up Virginia?
Nick: You were stuck on her, ain’t you?
Biff: Me, nah
Nick: Oh I was.
Biff: Oh I liked her, in a nice way.
Nick: I liked her too, but I forget which way.
“Hey fellas, here comes the Strawberry Blonde”
“Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate”
“Going my way sister?”
“I love my wife, but…”
“For her I’d take out citizenship papers”
Biff: Well I suppose I get the girl friend?
Hugo (Jack Carson): Naturally. You think I’d wear this suit on a weekday for anybody but Virginia?
Biff: As usual, I get the leavings. I bet she’s a crow.
Hugo: Oh how do you know.
Biff: Have you ever seen the girl friend of a pretty girl that wasn’t?
Hugo: Gosh, she sure looks pretty.
Biff: Oh boy, she’s all the fudge! What’s that thing with her?
Hugo: I suppose that’s the girlfriend.
Biff: In my eyes, Virginia, you couldn’t possibly do anything wrong. In my eyes, Virginia, you’re the most perfect lady in the whole world…
Virginia (Rita Hayworth): Well good night Biff, and thanks for a very lovely day.
Biff: Oh Virginia, I know you’re a very popular girl, but I really would like to see you sometime.
Virginia: Oh, let’s say three weeks from Wednesday. I’ll be free then.
Biff: Oh, Virginia, that time when you kissed me when we were dancing, was that just one of those things or, I mean, did it mean anything to you or was it just one of…
Virginia: Now, Biff! Do you think I’m the kind of a girl who just goes around kissing boys???
It’s ‘three weeks from Wednesday’ and Biff runs into Virginia who has ‘conveniently’ forgotten about their date… Biff explains his big plans for the evening, and ‘luckily’ Virginia decides not to let him down…
Biff: Well, Virginia, you know what day this is, don’t you?
Virginia: No, what?
Biff: Three weeks from Wednesday. Don’t you remember? We have a date.
Virginia: Oh that’s right. I’ve been meaning to tell you Biff, a cousin of mine arrived unexpectedly from Scranton…
Biff: Now Nick, you know what this means to me. Four more bucks and I’ll be set for the evening.
Nick: I’m crazy about Virginia myself, why should I give you the money?
Biff: Maybe I’m a little bit too crazy about her. But somehow she’s my ideal. Every fellow has an ideal. Somebody he cares for… and when he cares for that somebody, well, nothing else matters. It’s like an ingrown pain that starts at the pit of your stomach and works on up to your neck. That’s the way I feel about Virginia.
Biff: Nick, I knew all the time about Virginia and Hugo. As a matter of fact, I helped pull it off. Virginia’s a nice girl, yes, but not for me. Nick, if I wanted Virginia, do you suppose I’d let Hugo get away with it? You know me, Nick, I take nothing from nobody.
Now, I don’t want to give away every little detail of the remaining storyline here, but suffice it to say that there are a few more twists and turns on the horizon… Biff settles for ‘second best’, Hugo turns out to be a crook, Biff goes to jail, Biff seeks revenge, and, well, Biff finally comes to realize who the girl for him really is…
And, as for Hugo and Virginia, well, here’s to the ‘happy’ couple:
Virginia: Honey, why can’t you be nice to me once in a while?
Hugo: Oh, I’ve been thinkin’ about it. Then I remember we’re married, so why bother?
“This post is part of the “getTV Rita Hayworth Blogathon” hosted by Classic Movie Hub and running during the entire month of October. Please visit getTVschedule to see a full list of Rita Hayworth films airing on the channel this month, and please be sure to visit Classic Movie Hub for a full list of other Blogathon entries.”
–Annmarie Gatti for Classic Movie Hub