Friday, December 30, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Lulu Belle (1948) - An Olive Films DVD Review

Dorothy Lamour stars as social-climbing LULU BELLE (1948), now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Olive Films.

Lulu Belle is singing in a tavern when she spots young lawyer George Davis (George Montgomery) as an easy mark. In no time at all George has dumped his girlfriend, sold his practice, married Lulu Belle, and moved with her to a nice hotel in New Orleans.

Their money begins to run out, but boxer Butch Cooper (Greg McClure) is all too willing to pay the hotel bills for Mr. and Mrs. Davis, and George starts to wonder what's going on. He's a little slow on the uptake.

Soon Lulu Belle has moved on from Butch to starring in a fancy club run by Mark Brady (Albert Dekker), and then she moves up to being the mistress of wealthy Harry Randolph (Otto Kruger) -- whose wife (Charlotte Wynters) is none too pleased. George, meanwhile, has long ago been tossed to the sidelines, but Lulu Belle can't quite get him out of her mind.

The awkwardly constructed screenplay, based on a play coauthored by Charles MacArthur, tells the story in flashbacks, after George has been arrested for the attempted murder of Harry.

I generally love lesser-known films and am delighted when a title like this comes to DVD, but it must be said that this one is pretty boring. In other hands, with a better script and more dynamic performers, this story of a woman willing to love 'em and leave 'em in the interest of getting ahead could have been a compelling story. Unfortunately, LULU BELLE is anything but.

Longtime readers know of my fondness for George Montgomery, but he almost fades off the screen in this one as the wimpy, put-upon husband.

Lamour seems considerably older than Montgomery, though in reality the age difference was just 18 months, and while I'm disposed to like her, here she's as flat as Montgomery. The most interesting thing about her in this is her elaborately done hair, designed by Helen Hunt; the intricate rolls at times seem to use more hair than any woman could possibly have!

Una Merkel occasionally livens things up, while Addison Richards comes off best as an even-tempered police inspector. Most of the other characters are sleazy and unsympathetic, and not in an interesting way.

LULU BELLE was directed by Leslie Fenton and filmed in black and white by Ernest Laszlo. It runs 86 minutes.

For the most part the Olive Films DVD is a beautiful print. There's an odd cut near the end, with the end card apparently spliced on from a TV print.

Thanks to Olive Films for providing a review copy of this DVD.


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