THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS (director: David Butler; screenwriters: Norman Panama/Melvin Frank/James V. Kern/based on a story by Everett Freeman & Arthur Schwartz; cinematographer: Arthur Edeson; editor: Irene Morra; music: Arthur Schwartz/Frank Loesser; cast: Eddie Cantor (Joe Simpson/Himself), Joan Leslie (Pat Dixon), Dennis Morgan (Tommy Randolph), S.Z. Sakall (Dr. Schlenna), Edward Everett Horton (Farnsworth), Ruth Donnelly (Nurse Hamilton), Joyce Reynolds (Girl With Book), Richard Lane (Barney Johnson), Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, John Garfield, Ann Sheridan, Olivia, de Havilland, Ida Lupino, Dinah Shore, Alexis Smith, Jack Carson, Alan Hale, George Tobias, Hattie McDaniel, Willie Best, Spike Jones, Don Wilson; Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Mark Hellinger/Jack L. Warner; Warner Bros.; 1943)
“It’s vulgar entertainment, but at least there’s a few laughs over the stars ribbing each other and doing some acts.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Everybody on the Warner Bros. payroll seems to put in an appearance in this mostly dreadful wartime Hollywood all-star revue, aimed to be uplifting to the public back home and the WW II troops overseas. It’s Warner’s response to Paramount’s recent Star Spangled Rhythm and MGM’s Thousands Cheer. The cast donated their $50,000 salaries to the Hollywood Canteen. Director David Butler (“My Wild Irish Rose”) keeps it sloshing along with a musical context and a silly story line that’s based on a story by Everett Freeman & Arthur Schwartz. Writers Norman Panama, Melvin Frank and James V. Kern fill in the script. If you’re a fan of Eddie Cantor, you get a full dose of him–which is not good for someone like me who finds him to be an obnoxious cornball.
Cantor has a dual role, in one part he’s presented as a cad film star and in the other part he’s a sweetheart bus tour guide in Hollywood who can’t get a gig in the movies because he looks so much like the movie star Cantor.
The egotistical and insensitive Cantor pushes himself onto a benefit show which S. Z. Sakall and Edward Everett Horton are trying to present. The producers want Dinah Shore as a singer, but she’s under contract to Cantor’s radio show and he won’t release her unless he’s in the show. The producers agree to make Cantor chairman of the benefit committee in return for Dinah’s appearance, but as soon as Cantor is part of the show he starts interfering with the acts. It results in a group of aspiring actors dressing as Indians to kidnap the real Cantor and the tour guide taking his place, and introducing the aspiring singers Dennis Morgan and Joan Leslie–both of whom Cantor gave a dirty deal to–to perform at the benefit show. Morgan is a hit and studio mogul Jack Warner signs him to a movie contract.
What keeps things tolerable is that the movie is at least lively and offers harmless fun and a chance to see just about everyone on the Warner’s lot. It’s vulgar entertainment, but at least there’s a few laughs over the stars ribbing each other and doing some acts. The acts include: John Garfield doing a pedestrian version of Blues in the Night, Jack Carson and Alan Hale doing a buck-and-wing, Ida Lupino doing a jitterbug, Olivia de Havilland and George Tobias, Hattie McDaniel and Willie Best strutting their stuff in Ice Cold Katie, and my two favorite numbers are the English music hall one from Errol Flynn called That’s What You Jolly Well Get and Bette Davis’ showstopping rendition of They’re Either too Young or Too Old.
REVIEWED ON 10/10/2006 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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