Friday, February 12, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Annabel Takes a Tour (1938) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Lucille Ball returns as movie star Annabel Allison in ANNABEL TAKES A TOUR (1938), part of a new two-film set from the Warner Archive.

ANNABEL TAKES A TOUR, released by RKO in November 1938, was a followup to THE AFFAIRS OF ANNABEL (1938), released two months previously. My review of THE AFFAIRS OF ANNABEL may be found here.

This time around Howard Webb (Bradley Page), head of Wonder Pictures, decides to send Annabel on a goodwill tour around the country, accompanied by mad publicity man Lanny Morgan (Jack Oakie) and trusted secretary Jo (Ruth Donnelly).

Craziness ensues as Annabel falls for a nobleman (Ralph Forbes) staying at the same hotel; he's an author, and little does Annabel know he's as interested in publicity as she is.

This is a very lightweight movie, with Annabel's love-hate relationship with Lanny never really making much sense. That said, the movie has its compensations for a classic film fan, starting with how lovely Lucille Ball looks -- made up as a regal star to greet her fans at a theater, Ball's appearance could rival Hedy Lamarr for beauty. Ball is not the first person I think of when I think of Hollywood glamour, or even the tenth, but she has it and then some here.

Aside from the always wonderful Ruth Donnelly, the movie has a great cast. Alice White, who is always fun, has a few scenes as Annabel's manicurist. It's the kind of film where Cecil Kellaway pops in for a single scene as the viscount's publisher, and when you look at the pack of reporters in the hotel hallway and recognize a young James Millican. (Or was it his lookalike, Louis Jean Heydt? IMDb's entry for this film is missing several characters.) For fans of the world's greatest dress extra, there's even a Bess Flowers sighting at a horse show.

Three children with British accents appear in the last couple of scenes; they aren't listed at IMDb, but they looked like members of the Severn family, some of whom I've been privileged to meet. Indeed, two of the children were referred to as Raymond and Yvonne, which would have been their real names. I'll have to look into that further!

ANNABEL TAKES A TOUR was directed by Lew Landers and shot in black and white by Russell Metty. It runs 67 minutes.

The supporting cast includes Chester Clute, Donald MacBride, Edward Gargan, Frances Mercer, Virginia Dabney, and Pepito Perez.

Although the two ANNABEL movies were quite giddy, I enjoyed them enough that I'm rather sorry the series came to a halt with this film. The great RKO house style, deep casts, and amusing pokes at the movie industry in these two films combine for a fun couple of hours.

ANNABEL TAKES A TOUR is packaged on the same Warner Archive disc with THE AFFAIRS OF ANNABEL. Both of these films look terrific. There are no extras.

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


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