Sunday, July 05, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS (1943) is an all-star Warner Bros. extravaganza just released in a gorgeous Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS is one of three "all-star" films Warner Bros. released in 1943-44, the others being THIS IS THE ARMY (1943) and HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN (1944). (The three films were previously jointly released on DVD in the Homefront Collection.) All three films featured Joan Leslie in the lead ingenue role, supported by an impressive collection of WB stars.

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS is somewhat of a mixed bag, insofar as the "plot" tying the musical numbers together is, shall we say, lame. It has to do with Eddie Cantor and his lookalike, bus driver Joe (Cantor in a dual role); Cantor is a pain in the neck when he takes over running a charity benefit, but Joe manages to take his place, enabling a would-be singer (Dennis Morgan) and songwriter (Leslie) with their chance to shine. The story's kind of confusing and not very interesting. It's also a bit puzzling at first realizing that Morgan and Leslie are playing "characters" while all the other stars in the movie play themselves.

The storyline stretches the movie out to a longish 127 minutes, but if you put those "bridging" scenes aside -- or perhaps even hit the fast-forward button! -- there's a great deal to like in the movie, which is jam-packed with musical numbers including:

*Dinah Shore crooning "The Dreamer" and "How Sweet You Are" -- the latter song is especially lovely, and Dinah had a smile like a million bucks.

*Ann Sheridan instructing a bunch of college girls, including Joyce Reynolds, that "Love Isn't Born (It's Made)"; look for Virginia Patton, who played sister-in-law Ruth in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946), as one of the girls.

*Errol Flynn singing and dancing with gusto as a Cockney in "That's What You Jolly Well Get."

*Morgan and Leslie (dubbed by her regular voice double Sally Sweetland) charming in "No You, No Me."

*Morgan singing the best, most imaginative number in the film, "Good Night, Good Neighbor," with Alexis Smith dancing; what a treat to see Smith dance so elegantly on film! (An aside, Lynn Baggett, the lovely lady Morgan croons to, had a tragic life.)

The early part of the movie also provides a particularly good tour of the Warner Bros. backlot, with several recognizable streets and buildings, such as the big building seen in this photo, taken on a tour this spring.

Other guest stars include John Garfield (who can't carry a tune), Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Ida Lupino, George Tobias, Alan Hale (Sr.), Jack Carson, and Humphrey Bogart. Spike Jones and His City Slickers appear in a couple of numbers.

THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS was directed by David Butler and filmed by Arthur Edeson.

The Blu-ray print is outstanding. The disc includes extras which were imported from the DVD release, including shorts, cartoons, a newsreel, and a radio show. All in all, despite the film's plot deficiencies, there is much to appreciate on this disc, and it's a "must buy" for those who love this era in Classic Hollywood. Kudos to the Warner Archive for putting this film out in such a beautiful print.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.


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