Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – full review!

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – full review!

A star-studded extravaganza from Warner Bros. the kind of wartime fare that allowed soldiers overseas to see all their favorite stars in those locations where a movie projector could be set-up but a (e.g. Bob Hope) USO-tour could not. Entertaining fluff for the home-front as well directed by David Butler and featuring a full slate of the studio’s stars and more. The razor thin (Everett Freeman-Arthur Schwartz) story that holds this Musical comedy together scripted by Melvin Frank James Kern and Norman Panama is about an undiscovered singing talent Dennis Morgan as Tommy Randolph who’s hoping to get a chance to sing at a Cavalcade of Stars charity event produced by dance choreographer Farnsworth (Edward Everett Horton) and conductor Dr. Schlenna (S.Z. Sakall). The producers are “trapped” into letting ham Eddie Cantor (as himself) be their show’s chairman because they want Dinah Shore to sing in their show. Cantor also plays Joe Simpson a bespeckled dramatic actor whose career is cursed by his looking virtually identical to the highly recognizable comedian. As a friend of Randolph Simpson and a wannabe but awful songwriter Joan Leslie as Pat Dixon try to help the singer get discovered. To think better Pat incessantly taps the sides of her temples with her fingers. To convince Tommy to use her song she inventively recreates other actors’ movie roles like Ida Lupino (who’s also in the movie) whom she imitates well and James Cagney though fairly poorly. To get Tommy in the show she finally conjures up the obvious (helped by Mary Treen’s uncredited fan character) have Joe imitate Cantor. Schwartz earned his first of two unrewarded Academy Award nominations for the Original Song “They’re Either Too Young or Old” performed by Bette Davis and co-written with Frank Loesser (Las Vegas Nights (1941)).

John Garfield appears as himself and his on-screen tough guy persona as a guest on Cantor’s radio program at the beginning of the film. Unshaven “gangster” Humphrey Bogart appears similarly with Sakall’s character. Bandleader Spike Jones exhibits his unique talent performing a number in the shanty town “Gower Gulch” in the Hollywood hills where the wannabe discovered live. Prior to the climactic show Ann Sheridan rehearses a number as do song & dance duo Jack Carson and Alan Hale and then Dinah Shore. Hattie McDaniel playing a gossip performs a number with an uncredited Willie Best. During the show Lupino Olivia de Havilland and George Tobias do a comedy gig of their own. Davis sings (and briefly swings) her number Errol Flynn performs and Alexis Smith dances after Dennis Morgan’s character sings. Meanwhile Cantor who’d been kidnapped (and shows that he’s willing to be the butt of all jokes even providing some self-deprecating humor of his own) struggles with an asylum nurse (Ruth Donnelly) while trying to return to the show. The finale includes all of these aforementioned actors and actresses led by singer Shore. Among those appearing uncredited are: Mike Mazurki as Cantor’s bodyguard masseuse and piano playing accompanist; Richard Lane who plays Barney Johnson the shady agent that scams both Tommy and Pat at the beginning; Paul Harvey as the asylum doctor who almost operates on Cantor; Edward Gargan as a beefy doorman; Frank Faylen as a sailor Henry Armetta as the barber (naturally) who helps make Joe look more like Cantor Dick Elliot and Don Barclay.

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