Lucille Ball and Allan Lane in Panama Lady (1939)


(director: Jack Hively; screenwriters: story by Garrett Elsden Fort/Michael Kanin; cinematographer: Roy Hunt; editor: Theron Warth; music: Harry Tierney/Roy Webb; cast: Lucille Ball (Lucy), Donald Briggs (Roy Harmon), Evelyn Brent (Leonore), Allen Lane (Dennis McTeague), William Pawley (Bartender); Runtime: 65; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Cliff Reid; RKO Radio Pictures; 1939)
“A minor film.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lucy is a loose living nightclub hostess in a seedy night spot who is left destitute in Panama, where she’s been setup in a scam by her nasty ex-lover Roy Harmon. She is forced to work for the wealthy man she tried to rob, oil-rigger Allen Lane. She works as a housekeeper to avoid jail time. Meanwhile she becomes romantically involved with him after she realizes the dude just wants his stolen money back and nothing else. Lucy soon becomes embroiled in some dangerous plots in the land known for Panama hats and corrupt dictatorships. In the conclusion she has to confront the evil Harmon character again, who suddenly reappears.

Jack Hively directs with workmanlike efficiency a film based on the story by Garrett Elsden. It’s a sterile remake of the 1932 Helen Twelvetrees vehicle Panama Flo.

It’s a minor film that is mildly entertaining with nothing in particular to recommend it, except seeing Lucy as a good looker on film instead of as a suburban housewife doing comedy sitcom on TV.