Kitty Foyle (film)

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Kitty Foyle
Kitty Foyle original cinema poster.jpg
The original 1940 cinema poster
Directed bySam Wood
Screenplay byDalton Trumbo
Based onKitty Foyle
1939 novel
by Christopher Morley
Produced byDavid Hempstead
StarringGinger Rogers
Dennis Morgan
James Craig
CinematographyRobert De Grasse
Edited byHenry Berman
Music byRoy Webb
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • December 27, 1940 (1940-12-27) (US)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,385,000[1]

Kitty Foyle, subtitled The Natural History of a Woman, is a 1940 film starring Ginger Rogers, Dennis Morgan, and James Craig, which is based on Christopher Morley's 1939 bestseller, also titled Kitty Foyle. Ginger Rogers won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Kitty Foyle, and the dress she wore in the film became a new dress style, known as a Kitty Foyle dress.


Ginger Rogers as Kitty Foyle

Kitty Foyle (Ginger Rogers), a saleswoman in a New York boutique owned by Delphine Detaille (Odette Myrtil), faces a life-changing decision: marry her fiancé, a poor doctor named Mark Eisen (James Craig), or run away to South America with a rich man she has loved for many years, the married Wyn Strafford (Dennis Morgan), who is about to leave his wife and young son. She is on the verge of choosing Wyn, but as she wrestles with her choice, the film flashes back to her youth in Philadelphia.

As a teenager, Kitty gawks at the city's elite "Main Liners" in a parade that precedes their annual Assembly Ball. Her father (Ernest Cossart) warns against getting carried away with her fantasies. Ironically, Kitty meets the embodiment of her dreams in an acquaintance of his: Wynnewood Strafford VI, the scion of a wealthy Main Line family. Wyn offers her a secretarial job at his fledgling magazine. The two fall in love, but when the magazine folds, he does not have the will to defy his family's expectations by proposing to a woman who is far beneath him socially.

With the death of her father and no prospect of marriage to Wyn, Kitty goes to work in New York for Delphine. One day, she presses the burglar alarm button by mistake at Delphine's fashion store. She pretends to faint to cover her blunder and is attended to by Dr. Mark Eisen. Mark, aware that she is faking unconsciousness, playfully blackmails her into a first date.

Wyn finally breaks down, finds Kitty in New York, and proposes to her, presenting her with a family heirloom ring. She agrees to marry him on the condition that they not live in Philadelphia. When he introduces her to his family, she gets a chilly reception. She also learns that Wyn would be disinherited if he does not remain in Philadelphia and work in the family banking business. Though Wyn is willing to give up his inheritance, she decides that he is not strong enough to deal with poverty. She walks out, and they are divorced.

Kitty returns to New York, where she takes up with Mark again, but she soon discovers that she is pregnant with Wyn's child. Wyn arranges to meet her, raising her hopes for a reconciliation, but they are dashed when she sees a newspaper announcement of Wyn's engagement to someone of his own social standing. She leaves without seeing him and receives a further blow when their baby dies at birth.

Five years later, Kitty reluctantly agrees to open a Philadelphia branch store for her friend Delphine. By chance, she waits on Wyn's wife and meets their son. Kitty takes the opportunity to entrust the secret return of the family heirloom ring to the boy, prompting Wyn to visit and woo her one final time. The film returns to the dilemma Kitty faced at its beginning. When she decides to marry Mark rather than Wyn, her life takes a new and more promising course.



Katharine Hepburn, who starred opposite Rogers (but was frequently at odds with her) in Stage Door, was offered the title role, but turned it down.

The film was adapted by Dalton Trumbo and Donald Ogden Stewart from the 1939 novel Kitty Foyle by Christopher Morley. It was directed by Sam Wood.


Kitty Foyle was RKO's top film for 1940,[2]: 144 earning a profit of $869,000.[2]: 155

Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle trailer

Reviews from critics were generally positive. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times expressed disappointment that the story had been softened from the novel due to Production Code restrictions, but wrote of the protagonist that "Ginger Rogers plays her with as much forthright and appealing integrity as one can possibly expect."[3] Variety wrote "Despite its episodic, and at times, vaguely defined motivation, picture on whole is a poignant and dramatic portraiture of a typical Cinderella girl's love story. Several good comedy sequences interline the footage, deftly written and directed. Ginger Rogers provides strong dramatic portrayal in the title role."[4] Film Daily called it "one of the most human pictures that has been produced in Hollywood in many, many moons ... a triumph for Ginger Rogers."[5] Harrison's Reports wrote "Very good!...The story is simple but realistic; it has deep human appeal, a stirring romance, and delightful comedy bits; moreover, the performances are excellent." [6]

"I am inclined to think that it's Miss Ginger alone who makes 'Kitty Foyle' a better-than-average film and Kitty herself a proper model for those hundreds of thousands of young things who will now be adding a touch of white to their neckline," John Mosher wrote in The New Yorker. "Without Miss Ginger, it would be very easy to remember how often many of the scenes shown in this film have been seen before on the screen."[7]

In 1951, in a series of articles examining film adaptation, Lester Asheim notes that some films "reproduce the costume, housing, and appearance of the novel's prototypes without softening or heightening," but that Kitty Foyle shows the more typical "glamorizing" process of film adaptation:

Kitty Foyle is typical, in every aspect of the adaptation, of the daydream character of film characterization. The glamorizing process carries through from the casting of Ginger Rogers and the Hollywood wardrobe provided her, to such added incidents as Wyn renting an entire nightclub for a night...While the film retains a scene or two of Kitty's crowded apartment shared with two other girls, such scenes are played for comedy and no attempt is made to convey the day-to-day monotony and routine of the working girl.[8]

Rogers' dress became a popular style, taking the name of the film.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result
Academy Awards[10] Outstanding Production David Hempstead (for RKO Radio) Nominated
Best Director Sam Wood Nominated
Best Actress Ginger Rogers Won
Best Screenplay Dalton Trumbo Nominated
Best Sound Recording John O. Aalberg Nominated
National Board of Review Awards[11] Best Acting Ginger Rogers (also for Tom, Dick and Harry) Won


On December 9, 1940, Life magazine republished a pictorial adaptation that the film's designers had used as models when creating the film.[12] The cover featured Ginger Rogers as the Kitty Foyle character.

Kitty Foyle was adapted as a radio play on the May 5, 1941 episode of Lux Radio Theatre, with Ginger Rogers reprising her role. Rogers also starred in the April 6, 1946 adaptation heard on Academy Award Theater. On March 3, 1947, the play was produced for The Screen Guild Theater, starring Olivia de Havilland.

The story also was adapted into a TV soap opera starring Kathleen Murray as Kitty Foyle.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Richard Jewell, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p55
  2. ^ a b Jewell, Richard B.; Harbin, Vernon (1982). The RKO Story. New York: Arlington House. ISBN 9780517546567.
  3. ^ Crowther, Bosley (January 9, 1941). "Movie Review - Kitty Foyle". The New York Times. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  4. ^ "Kitty Foyle". Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. December 18, 1940. p. 16.
  5. ^ "Reviews of the New Films". Film Daily. New York: Wid's Films and Film Folk, Inc.: 6 December 23, 1940.
  6. ^ "'Kitty Foyle' with Ginger Rogers, Dennis Morgan and James Craig". Harrison's Reports: 3. January 4, 1941.
  7. ^ Mosher, John (January 11, 1941). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. New York: F-R Publishing Corp. p. 61.
  8. ^ Asheim, Lester (Summer 1951). "From Book to Film: Mass Appeals". Hollywood Quarterly. 5 (4): 341. doi:10.2307/1209664. ISSN 1549-0076. JSTOR 1209664. OCLC 56138080.
  9. ^ "Ginger Rogers' passion for fashion". Retrieved February 7, 2012.
  10. ^ "The 13th Academy Awards (1941) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved August 13, 2011.
  11. ^ "1941 Award Winners". National Board of Review. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  12. ^ Life. December 9, 1940.

External links[edit]

Streaming audio