Monday, May 21, 2018

Tonight's Movie: A Lady Takes a Chance (1943) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

In the mid '40s John Wayne made a couple very good romantic comedies with travel-related themes. One was WITHOUT RESERVATIONS (1946), costarring Claudette Colbert, and the other was A LADY TAKES A CHANCE (1943), in which he starred with Jean Arthur.

A LADY TAKES A CHANCE has just been released on DVD and Blu-ray by Kino Lorber. The Blu-ray is beautiful and was a great way to revisit this delightful film, which I originally reviewed on my blog back in 2009.

John Wayne probably isn't the first person who comes to mind as a romantic comedy lead opposite either Arthur or Colbert, but he's completely at home in this genre. (An interesting side note, he was younger than each of those actresses, but it works fine.) Wayne was as skilled a "reactor" as there ever was on the screen, and watching his baffled yet charmed reactions to the endearing Arthur is a big part of what makes A LADY TAKES A CHANCE so much fun to watch.

Arthur plays Molly, who leaves New York for a 14-day vacation seeing the west by bus. She leaves behind three suitors, played by Grady Sutton, Hans Conreid, and Grant Withers, to whom she's polite but indifferent; after being courted by the tepid likes of Sutton and Conreid, it's no surprise that when she meets big, strong rodeo cowboy Duke (Wayne) she's a goner.

After spending an evening together Molly misses her bus; the attracted yet exasperated Molly and Duke bicker as she struggles to get to the city where she can catch the bus, but he's obviously falling for her as well, despite claims that he doesn't want to be tied down.

Arthur's line readings in this film leave me in stitches; that voice that director Frank Capra called "a thousand tinkling bells" has the ability to make me laugh in and of itself. Just her gesturing to a motor court manager about "my bus" makes me laugh. She's just plain cute, there's no other word for it. Pair her with the handsome, earnest Wayne and you've got yourself a very engaging movie. I've watched it several times over the years, and I'm sure I'll be watching this Kino Blu-ray again many more times in the years to come. It's never looked better.

The supporting cast includes Charles Winninger as Duke's best friend, Phil Silvers as the bus tour guide from you-know-where, and Mary Field as Arthur's seatmate on the bus. Field has a gem of a scene as she watches, wide-eyed, as Arthur's trio of swains say farewell to her just before the bus leaves.

This film was directed by William A. Seiter and the uncredited Henry Hathaway. It was shot in black and white by Frank Redman. The running time is 87 minutes.

The lone extra is a trailer gallery for half a dozen films available from Kino Lorber.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Brittaney said...

I'm currently reading Jean Arthur's biography and there is nary a mention of this film. I guess it wasn't one of her favorites.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's interesting, Brittaney! It's been so long since I read her bio I didn't know that. It's sure one I like -- but then I like most of her stuff! :)

Thanks for sharing that!

Best wishes,

11:16 PM  
Blogger Hamlette (Rachel) said...

I've wanted to see this for years! And I had no idea it was out on DVD! Thank you!!!

8:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the review. I've just seen this on Youtube. Do you happen to know who the musical trio were in the bar where Duke first takes Molly for a drink, after the rodeo?

10:15 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hamlette, I hope you enjoy it!

Best wishes,

11:18 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I don't know offhand who the trio were! Hope you enjoyed the film.

Best wishes,

11:19 PM  

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