John Farr discusses Billy Wilder’s directorial debut film.
The Major and the Minor (1942)
What It’s About: Unable to pay for a train ticket back home to Iowa, big-city office worker Sue Applegate (Ginger Rogers) decides to pose as a twelve year-old girl for a reduced fare. On the train, kind Major Kirby (Milland) takes “Sue-Sue” under his wing, but her scheme is in danger of exposure once Kirby’s fiancee (Rita Johnson) and her in- the-know 12-year-old sister (Diana Lynn) enter the picture. Also, little Sue’s developing a not-so-little crush on the Major .
Why I Love It:
Leave it to legendary director Billy Wilder to turn what could have been a dunderheaded studio comedy into a first-rate howler with satirical overtones. With puckish irreverence, Wilder –in his directorial debut-shouldered a potentially dicey subject (a blossoming romance between a soldier and a minor) and lathered it with just enough intelligence, wit and compassion to please Hollywood audiences! Rogers and Milland play their roles with an insouciant innocence, too, under his peerless direction. You’ll love “The Major and the Minor,” a madcap Lolita story like no other!
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