Anyway, Su-Su is the most sought-after girl at the ball. One of the cadets excitedly introduces her to his parents, and his father thinks she looks rather familiar. Oh, dear! It’s Mr. Osborne, the scalp treatment guy. He spends the whole evening trying to figure out why he recognizes little Su-Su, which adds an unexpected wrinkle to Susan’s evening.
Wilder would later say that this film was “the first American movie about pedophilia,” but he kept that to himself at the time…
This scene reminds me of the conflict/comedy in Some Like it Hot (1959), another Billy Wilder comedy. It’s especially reminiscent of the train scene when Marilyn Monroe climbs into Jack Lemmon‘s bed (he is masquerading as a woman), and he can barely keep himself together. You can watch that scene here.
Susan has no choice. She loves Philip and won’t do anything to jeopardize his career. But she makes sure that Pamela knows how she feels:
Now, one would assume that Philip would have a lot of questions. But instead they just jump into this new paradigm where Susan is the perfect age.
Uncle Philip may not guess the truth about Su-Su, but he’s no dummy. At one point in the conversation, he looks at her appraisingly and says:
New York working girl Susan Applegate is desperate to go home to Iowa but does not have the railway fare so she disguises herself as a child to ride half fare. Enroute she meets Philip Kirby, an Army major teaching at a military school. Written by Jack McKillop <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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A woman disguises herself as a child to save on a train fare and is taken in charge by an army man who doesn't notice the truth.
The first time I saw this film, I didn’t think I would buy into Ginger Rogers as a 12 year-old girl. But I soon fell in love with the script. It’s such a funny, charming movie, and your review has really done it justice.
…the movie finds Susan Applegate (Ginger Rogers) pounding the pavement with a big case, a weird looking lamp, and a slightly exhausted air. We learn that she is a scalp treatment technician with the Revigorous system. She is on her way to an appointment with Mr. Osborne in a fancy apartment building.
Early Billy Wilder comedy starring Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland.
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Costume appreciation break. Pamela’s butterfly dress is a great “evil queen” look with its sharp, rigid lines. It contrasts perfectly with Susan’s soft, sheer, sparkly dress and feminine hair net. Well done, Edith Head! Characterization achieved through costume.
She is desperate to get home, even if it means pretending to be a twelve-year old kid (the cutoff for half-fares). So Susan heads for the women’s lounge for a reverse makeover. She scrubs off her makeup, rolls up her skirt, changes her heels for brown oxfords, and cuts stockings into socks. Then she braids her hair, rips the veil off her hat, and tilts it way back on her head. Ta-da!
Charles 'Slim' Lindbergh struggles to finance and design an airplane that will make his New York to Paris flight the first solo transatlantic crossing.
They think they’ve got her trapped, but Susan refuses to give up. She hides her still-burning cigarette in her mouth, but that doesn’t last long. She eventually runs away back through the train with the conductors on her heels.
Philip worries no more. He just looks at her with his good eye as she performs the “Maginot line” move that she learned from the cadets. It seems that there will be another couple stopping off in Nevada!
Susan hurries back to the ballroom, absolutely giddy that she can finally show her true self to Philip. But Philip isn’t there. Pamela told him that Su-Su has a stomachache and wouldn’t be able to make their meeting.
In occupied Berlin, an army captain is torn between an ex-Nazi cafe singer and the U.S. congresswoman investigating her.
Absolutely! Without Milland being funny and not creepy, the movie would be very different! Thanks for stopping by!
I love the Veronica Lake joke, too! Thanks for reading!
I always get a thrill when a brilliant dancer like Rogers goes into a “casual” routine in a non-dancing film.
Susan becomes popular with the young students, especially cadet Clifford Osborne, unaware he is the son of the client who prompted her to quit her job. When the elder Osborne visits the school, he recognizes Susan and reveals her identity to Pamela, who threatens to expose her and Philip and create a public scandal unless Susan leaves immediately.
Wilder wanted Ginger Rogers to play the lead from the beginning. Today she is best known for the ten films she made with Fred Astaire, but those films make up a tiny percentage of her overall career. She made 73 films, including several dramas, and in the early 1940s she was one of the top stars in Hollywood. She starred in a string of hits and won a Best Actress Oscar for Kitty Foyle (1940).
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Wilder was also careful to pay attention to the actors and crew, and tried to keep things light on set. Rogers recalled Wilder yelling “Champagne for everybody!” after wrapping scenes that he was pleased with. His attitude was contagious, and it was an enjoyable shoot. More importantly for the front office, though, the production stayed on schedule and on budget.
Su-Su is enjoying the masquerade and seems utterly charmed by how sweet Philip is, but she almost chokes when he says things like, “Just let me know if you have any trouble with your buttons” and “Do you have a nightie with you?”
As Susan prepares her equipment, Mr. Osborne lecherously suggests, “Why don’t you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?” Susan refuses.
Susan performs a convincing Pamela impersonation with plenty of “utterly beguilings.” Pamela’s friend is totally convinced, and she says she will be happy to speak to her husband about getting Philip transferred to active duty. But Su-Su gets in trouble when basically the entire school is thrown into chaos because of her inexpert work at the switchboard.
The Major And The Minor (1942)
A jealous piano teacher Orville Spooner sends his beautiful wife, Zelda, away for the night while he tries to sell a song to a famous nightclub singer Dino, who is stranded in town.
Wow! What a great post about a fun film. For me, Ginger makes it all work. What could have easily had a “creep factor” barely misses it because she is just so darn adorable. However, I would keep my eye on Ray MIlland the next time a “Su-Su” comes into view. Wonderful, fun and informative post.
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Watch online full movie: The Major and the Minor (1942) for free.
Thank you! I agree–the premise sounds ridiculous but somehow it works!
Lucy was right. Pamela is a stinker. Fun fact: In Crowther’s review of the film, he amusingly wrote that “Rita Johnson is something of a cat” and “Diana Lynn is a frightening younger maiden.”
To the film! After a joke about New York City…
Philip sees a beautiful woman at the end of the platform. She looks familiar…
Even her determined professionalism doesn’t keep Mr. Osborne from trying to fondle her as he sits there, though. And that’s the final straw. She gives his face a good massage before stepping away and removing her apron.