Rouben Mamoulian

Sog.: Robert Pirosh, Joseph Schrank. Scen.: Ken Englund. F.: George Barnes. M.: Barbara McLean. Scgf.: Richard Day, Albert Hogsett. Mus.: Cyril J. Mockridge. Int.: Henry Fonda (John Wheeler), Gene Tierney (Susan Miller/Linda Worthington), Laird Cregar (Warren), John Shepperd [Shepperd Strudwick] (Tod Fenwick), Spring Byington (Maybelle Worthington), Frank Orth (Kellogg), Henry Stephenson (colonnello Prentiss). Prod.: Milton Sperling per Twentieth Century-Fox. 35mm. D.: 86’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Rings on Her Fingers starts as a fairy tale, but Mamoulian artfully reverses the familiar plot trajectory and makes a fine-tuned comedy about people wanting to step out of the dream into the real world, despite initial hardship and obstacles. A light-hearted romance with touches of screwball, this is a Cinderella tale in reverse about a pair of confidence tricksters (Spring Byington and Laird Cregar in top form) who move in high circles and make money simply by being in the company of the rich. They recruit Susan, a naïve shop girl (Gene Tierney), to bait millionaires during trips to luxury holiday destinations. Picking up a young lad with a certain “Wall Street tan” (Henry Fonda as John Wheeler) as their next victim, their plot falters when the young people actually fall in love – and the man turns out to be a simple clerk. With the lovers determined to marry, the con artists blackmail Susan who still hasn’t revealed her true identity to John – forcing her into marrying a real millionaire.
The film features some of Mamoulian’ s visual motives (legs, mannequins) and themes such as mistaken identity and transformation  through  role-playing but the wordy script doesn’t give him the space to tell the story in strictly visual terms. The film suffers from verbosity as well as Tierney’s obvious limitations as a comedian, but this never detracts from the elegant and joyful ease of the narrative, which is imbued with whiplash dialogue and an array of colourful character actors, including a detective who churns out undecipherable metaphors. Fonda, however, is brilliant throughout and delivers some great gags and delightful moments of sheer comedy, providing the film with much of its screwball character.

Ehsan Khoshbakht

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courtesy of Park Circus.