Let’s-put-on-a-show wartime extravaganza is an excuse to showcase Warner Bros.’s contract players in a variety of funny sketches and musical vignettes. There is something for everyone in this canned vaudeville morale booster.
Reaction & Thoughts:
“Let’s just do it the way we did in rehearsals.”
The musical interludes are framed by the silly shenanigans of a struggling actor who can’t find a job because he bears an uncanny resemblance to movie star Eddie Cantor (Cantor, Roman Scandals and Kid Millions, plays himself and the actor). The unemployed actor also tries to help a singer (Joan Leslie, Yankee Doodle Dandy) and a songwriter (Dennis Morgan, In This Our Life) get their first big break.
The show begins with Dinah Shore (Till the Clouds Roll By) singing the title song, quickly followed by actor John Garfield’s (Body and Soul) rendition of “Blues in the Night.” There is a delightful music and dance routine with Alan Hale (Captain Blood) and Jack Carson (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). Ann Sheridan (Nora Prentiss) does a pretty nice job with the song “Love Isn’t Born (It’s Made).” Alexis Smith (Gentleman Jim) dances to the tune of “Good Night, Good Neighbor,” sung by actor Morgan.
Hattie McDaniel (Gone with the Wind and The Great Lie) kicks butt here. She is at the center of the movie’s most elaborate segment, the energetic “Ice Cold Katie,” lyrics by Frank Loesser and music by Arthur Schwartz. McDaniel started her career as a singer and this is a rare opportunity to see her doing what she apparently did best.
Actors Bette Davis and Errol Flynn (The Adventures of Robin Hood) provide the biggest surprises in this nonsensical but fun super-production. Flynn’s rendition of the Irish pub song “That’s What You Jolly Well Get” is a lot of fun. Who would have thought it? The actor sings and dances really well. Flynn seems to be enjoying himself.
Davis performs the Oscar-nominated song “They’re Either Too Young or Too Old” and this is the film’s highlight. Davis sing-talks quite well and does some crazy jitterbug dance routine (with the energetic Conrad Weidel). According to Davis, the whole thing was shot in one uninterrupted take, and if that’s true I’m impressed!
There is one dud: “The Dreamer,” sung by Olivia de Havilland (The Heiress) (dubbed by singer Lynn Martin), Ida Lupino (The Hard Way) and George Tobias (Sergeant York). I found the number very annoying.
Humphrey Bogart (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) has a hilarious non-musical cameo. I would have loved to see Bogie’s uniquely raspy voice attempt to do a song, but alas it was not meant to be. The cast also includes S.Z. Sakall (In the Good Old Summertime) and Edward Everett Horton (Lost Horizon). Anton Grot’s (Juarez and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex) sets are spectacular.
Conclusions & Final Thoughts:
Thank Your Lucky Stars is silly but fun. My only complaint is that it is way too long (in my opinion, there is too much Cantor). Salaries were donated to the Hollywood Canteen, a nightclub that offered free food and entertainment to servicemen run by actors Garfield and Davis. B&W, 127 minutes, Not Rated.