Kitty Foyle (1940)

Ginger Rogers as Kitty Foyle
Ginger Rogers as Kitty Foyle

'Kitty Foyle' is a romantic drama movie made in 1940, directed by Sam Wood and starring Ginger Rogers as the eponymous Kitty and James Craig and Dennis Morgan as the two men in her life. The movie is based on the best-selling 1939 novel of the same name by Christopher Morley. The movie has considerable charm and belongs to the "Woman's Picture" genre, which was very popular in the 1930's and 40's, but which has largely died out in today's more cynical world.

The movie was highly successful at the box office and was RKO's biggest hit of the year, earning profits of $869,000. It was also well received by the critics, receiving five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. It won one Oscar - the Best Actress Award for Ginger Rogers.


The story is a simple one. Kitty Foyle is a working class Irish girl who has to make a difficult choice between two suitors, one with old-generation Philadelphia money, and the other a hard-working doctor. The story uses flashbacks to follow her life over seven years and we watch with fascination to see if her romantic ideals can withstand the cold water of reality. The action takes place against a backdrop of the changing role of women in American society in the early part of the 20th century and the subtitle of the movie is 'The Natural History of a Woman'.

Ginger Rogers gives a first class, Oscar-winning performance as Kitty, although at the time the performances of Katharine Hepburn in 'The Philadelphia Story' and Bette Davis in 'The Letter' were considered more likely candidates to win the award. The movie was made less than a year after the end of Ginger's legendary nine picture partnership with Fred Astaire and she wanted an opportunity to act in a more serious role, to show what she could do. The movie helped her to make the transition to an accepted position as a dramatic actress and not just a musical star.


Katharine Hepburn was first offered the eponymous lead role but turned it down.

Ginger Rogers was initially concerned about the explicit sexuality contained in the original Christopher Morley novel. She was advised by her mother to wait to read the screenplay. She did this and was happy that the objectionable material had been removed to comply with the production code.

The film breaks normal romantic tradition by starting near the end and then continuing in a long series of flashbacks.

The dress with white collar and cuffs that Ginger wore in the film became extremely popular and is still known as a Kitty Foyle dress.

The support players are excellent with Dennis Morgan and James Craig as the two rival suitors and Ernest Cossart performs memorably as Kitty's father. The deft directorial touch of Sam Wood prevents the soap opera from becoming too mawkish. All in all, a high quality movie well performed by a talented cast.

Main Cast

Ginger Rogers ... Kitty Foyle
Dennis Morgan ... Wynnewood 'Wyn' Strafford VI
James Craig ... Dr. Mark Eisen
Eduardo Ciannelli ... Giono
Ernest Cossart ... Pop
Gladys Cooper ... Mrs. Strafford
Odette Myrtil ... Delphine Detaille
Mary Treen ... Pat
K. T. Stevens ... Molly
Walter Kingsford ... Mr. Kennett
Cecil Cunningham ... Grandmother
Nella Walker ... Aunt Jessica
Edward Fielding ... Uncle Edgar
Kay Linaker ... Wyn's Wife
Richard Nichols ... Wyn's Boy


Director ... Sam Wood
Producer ... David Hempstead, Harry E. Edington
Screenplay ... Dalton Trumbo, Donald Ogden Stewart
Music ... Roy Webb
Cinematography ... Robert De Grasse
Distribution Company ... RKO Radio Pictures
Release date ... December 27, 1940
Running time ... 108 minutes

Academy Awards

One Win:
Best Actress ... Ginger Rogers
Four Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Picture ... David Hempstead, Harry E. Edington
Best Director ... Sam Wood
Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay ...Dalton Trumbo, Donald Ogden Stewart
Best Sound ... John Aalberg