Friday, October 27, 2017

Tonight's Movie: Lucky Devils (1933) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

LUCKY DEVILS (1933) is an entertaining RKO pre-Code about the movie business. It's available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

LUCKY DEVILS reunited William "Bill" Boyd and Dorothy Wilson, costars of the previous year's MEN OF AMERICA (1932), along with MEN OF AMERICA'S director and cinematographer, Ralph Ince and J. Roy Hunt. Like MEN OF AMERICA, LUCKY DEVILS is an interesting and fast-paced film which has a relatively unique story and makes good use of locations.

Boyd plays Skipper Clark, Hollywood's "best stuntman." Skipper believes that stuntmen make bad husbands and husbands make bad stuntmen, until he meets Fran (Wilson), a down-on-her-luck actress. Skipper and his coworker Bob (William Gargan) take Fran under their wing, helping her get work as a bit player, and she quickly falls for Skipper.

The deaths of a couple fellow stuntmen (William Bakewell and Bruce Cabot) make everyone sad and anxious, especially once Skipper and Fran marry and there's a baby on the way. Skipper resolves to leave the business for a safer job but it's the Depression and he finds it tough to get work until a director takes pity on him and puts him on a labor crew. The need for money for doctor bills tempts Skipper to take on one last great stunt...

LUCKY DEVILS is a fun peek at what 1930s moviemakers thought of the movie business, or at least what they thought the public would like to see of it! The movie starts with an elaborate set piece which looks like a bank robbery, but the camera finally pulls back to reveal the soundstage and camera, a nice touch. There are some marvelous backlot shots which help make the movie a very interesting look at early sound-era filmmaking.

The movie's 68 minutes pass quickly; it might not be a classic but it's an interesting little slice of movie history which does what it set out to do, entertain its audience.

Costar Bob Rose, a real-life stuntman, cowrote the story. The cast also includes Julie Haydon, Rochelle Hudson, Lon Chaney Jr., and Betty Furness. Apparently I missed spotting Ward Bond as a crew member!

The Warner Archive DVD picture is a bit soft, but it's generally in good shape, with a strong soundtrack. There are no extras.

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 or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


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