The Bette Davis Project: Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

Synopsis:

Lets-put-on-a-show wartime nonsense is an excuse to showcase Warners’ contract players in a variety of musical vignettes. There is something for everyone in this canned vaudeville morale booster.

Reaction & Thoughts:

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 breaks.

The show begins with Dinah Shore (Up in Arms) singing the title song, quickly followed by John Garfield’s (The Postman Always Rings Twice“Blues in the Night.” There is a delightful music and dance routine with Alan Hale (Adventures of Don Juan) and Jack Carson (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). Ann Sheridan (Angels with Dirty Faces) does a pretty nice job with the song “Love Isn’t Born (It’s Made).” Alexis Smith (Night and Day) dances to the tune of “Good Night, Good Neighbor,” sung by Dennis 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.

Bette Davis and Errol Flynn (Captain Blood and The Sea Hawk) provide the biggest surprises. First, Flynn’s rendition of the Irish pub song “That’s What You Jolly Well Get” is a lot of fun. Who would have known? 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. She sings-talks quite well and does some crazy jitterbug dance routine (with Conrad Weidel). Davis claimed that the whole thing was shot in one take and if that’s true I’m impressed.

There is one dud; “The Dreamer,” sung by Olivia de Havilland (dubbed by Lynn Martin), Ida Lupino (Roadhouse) 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 (there is, in my opinion, too much Cantor). Salaries were donated to the Hollywood Canteen, a night club that offered free food and entertainment to servicemen, run by Garfield and Davis. B&W, 127 minutes, Not Rated.

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2 responses to “The Bette Davis Project: Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

    • It’s fun to see actors step out of their comfort zones. Non-singers in musicals are the best! Love Gloria Grahame in Oklahoma, Roy Scheider in All That Jazz, Charles Durning in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Christopher Walken in Pennies from Heaven, etc. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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