Saturday, October 03, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Lucky Night (1939) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

The MGM film LUCKY NIGHT (1939), starring favorites Myrna Loy and Robert Taylor, was just released by the Warner Archive.

LUCKY NIGHT is part of the Warner Archive's new four-film "wave" of releases directed by Norman Taurog. I'll be reviewing additional Taurog releases from the Archive in the near future.

Loy plays Cora Jordan, a wealthy young woman who has just broken off her romance with Joe (Joseph Allen); she just doesn't feel a spark. After chatting with her father (Henry O'Neill) Cora decides to strike out on her own, finding a job and supporting herself, in hopes that she'll meet someone exciting out in the "real world," so to speak.

As part of her new independence Cora refuses all help from her father, which means that when she can't find a job she ends up trying to rest on a park bench...and this being the movies, the homeless man on the bench next to her is Bill Overton (Robert Taylor). (Only in the movies does an unemployed young woman meet someone dreamy like Robert Taylor or Herbert Marshall on a park bench!)

Bill and Cora spend a wonderful evening together, hitting a slot machine jackpot, winning a car, and ultimately getting drunk and getting married. When they wake up and realize what they've done they decide not to annul the ceremony but to stick with the marriage. Bill gets a job selling paint and is a success, but when he gets a raise, he and Cora can't agree on how to use their money; she wants security, with savings and the ability to feather the warm little "nest" she's built from nothing, while he wants to blow the new windfall from his salary increase on "fun."

LUCKY NIGHT has an initially cute premise and two of MGM's most attractive stars, but it never really takes off. The first 2/3 or so of the film works well enough, with Cora and Bill meeting and falling in love, although their "lucky night" spree isn't especially exciting. Where the movie struggles is over their financial disagreement. They're such a happy couple that it feels as though the movie is reaching for conflict just to make the movie longer.

While it's understandable Bill wants to preserve some fun and excitement in his marriage, his character doesn't make a whole lot of sense. He's turned out to be a dynamic salesman and has a wonderful wife who's completely adapted from a life of luxury to being a homemaker on $35 a week, yet he's willing to risk everything he's built for...I'm not sure exactly what, and neither is he, as he has a hard time articulating his feelings. Surely such a compatible couple could have compromised with a "fun fund" along with their savings, or something like that! But then you'd only have an hour-long movie instead of one that runs 82 minutes.

All that said, although the film is deficient plotwise, there are certainly far worse things than spending a movie with Robert Taylor and Myrna Loy, and I enjoyed their company.

The film is perked up by some fine character performances, starting with Charles Lane in a terrific little part as Bill's boss at the paint company; he's wonderful. Marjorie Main is Bill and Cora's supportive landlady.

The supporting cast also includes Douglas Fowley, Marie Blake, Bernadene Hayes, Edward Gargan, Irving Bacon, and Frank Faylen.

LUCKY NIGHT was filmed in black and white by Ray June. Loy's gowns were designed by Dolly Tree.

The Warner Archive DVD is a nice print, and the disc includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


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