“Oh Ginger, face facts… When have you ever lasted in any job? What have you ever done in any job but dream about what you’d do with the next one?”
An Irish immigrant (Robert Shaw) in Montreal remains hopeful that a “job with possibilities” lies just around the corner — meanwhile, his disillusioned wife (Mary Ure) grows tired of her husband’s lies and instability, and threatens to break up their marriage.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Canadian Films
- Character Studies
- Immigrants and Immigration
- Marital Problems
- Robert Shaw Films
Robert Shaw shines as the title character in this tale of Irish immigrants hoping to create a new life for themselves in Montreal, Canada. While “Ginger” is undeniably self-deluded, unrealistic, and dishonest, the strength of Shaw’s performance lies in the fact that we literally can’t help sympathizing with Ginger from the moment he appears on-screen: his face is full of such genuine good cheer (his eyes are piercingly bright) that one immediately understands why he gets so far on charisma and charm alone. Unfortunately, despite the deceptively cheery soundtrack, circumstances quickly go downhill, as Ginger makes one bad decision after another, and his wife (played with nuance and depth by Shaw’s real-life wife, Mary Ure) suddenly realizes she can no longer count on Ginger as a reliable partner. Given its depressing trajectory, The Luck of Ginger Coffey won’t be for all tastes — but it’s certainly worth a look if you can locate a copy.
Note: Director Irvin Kershner makes excellent use of Montreal locales, seamlessly incorporating several vignettes which reveal the language tensions inherent in mid-century Canadian politics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Robert Shaw as Ginger Coffey
- Mary Ure as Ginger’s put-upon wife, Vera
- Libby McClintock as Ginger and Vera’s teenage daughter, Paulie
- Fine on-location footage in Montreal
No, but it’s absolutely worth a look simply for Shaw’s noteworthy performance.