Though at times a fairly silly movie, Professional Sweetheart is enjoyable. Ginger Rogers is very cute as a girl who just wants to have fun, and while Norman Foster (as Jim Davey) is perhaps not the most dynamic actor in the world, he is convincingly sincere. Add a group of excellent character actors, including Gregory Ratoff (playing a part not dissimilar to his role in All About Eve), Frank McHugh (as Speed Dennis), and Allen Jenkins (as O'Connor), and you have a film that is fun and ever so slightly titillating (as you can see from the still below!)
We were pleased to also see Theresa Harris (Vera) in a small role. She's relegated to playing a maid, of course, and is not even billed in the credits, but she is again (as she was in Baby Face) intelligent and attractive, and more of a confidant to the unhappy Glory than a mere servant. Unlike Ginger Rogers, Ms. Harris actually gets to do her own singing (Etta Moten sings for Ms. Rogers; why, is a big question). Ms. Harris has a lovely voice, and is an excellent actress: with 99 film and television credits to her name, Ms. Harris SHOULD be better known. She was the inspiration for a play, By the Way, Vera Stark, which performed off-Broadway in 2011. Married from 1933 until her death, to a physician, Ms. Harris retired from acting in 1958. She died at age 79, in 1985.
Normally, we enjoy ZaSu Pitts (Elmerada de Leon), but her vagueness gets annoying after a time. Of course, Elmerada is supposed to be annoying, but she is also supposed to be funny. The film really carries the act a bit too far, so we found ourselves groaning when Ms. Pitts started to open her mouth.
Norman Foster is okay as the romantic lead, but not much more than that. He would continue acting until 1938 (he returned to acting in the 1970s in a few television shows and movies), but he is best known as a director. He directed several of the Mr. Moto films, 1948's Rachel and the Stranger (starring his sister-in-law, Loretta Young), and the noir classic Woman on the Run (1950). He also did much television directing (including 39 episodes of Ms. Young's television shows). He was married for 7 years to Claudette Colbert; after their divorce in 1935, he married Sally Blane; they had two children and were married until his death from cancer in 1976 (age 72).
This was Ms. Rogers' first film under a three picture deal with RKO (TCM article). All three pictures (Rafter Romance, also co-starring Norman Foster, and Chance at Heaven were the other two) were released in 1933, as was her next film, under a new seven-year contract - Flying Down to Rio, her first film with Fred Astaire. They didn't dub her singing voice after that!
Original titles for the film include Careless and Purity Girl, (AFI Catalog) but we felt the release title was the best choice - after all, but Jim AND Glory turn out to be professional sweethearts! Besides the character actors mentioned above, there are brief glimpses of Betty Furness (as a reporter) and Akim Tamiroff (as a waiter).
The New York Times liked the film (which premiered in Radio City Music Hall), as did my colleague at Pre-code.com (for an outline of some of the pre-code naughtiness, please to visit his posting). You can see some of that naughtiness in this clip from the film. A good opportunity to see Ginger Rogers early in her career, Professional Sweetheart is a pleasant romp.