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I ran across this in a load of cheap public-domain movies of the Monogram/Chesterfield/PRC type and, boy was i surprised! What a snappy little comedy-drama this one is! The script by John W. Krafft is a humdinger, and if the actors had all been A-list types (think Carole Lombard and Jimmy Stewart or Jean Arthur and Henry Fonda) and the settings has been filmed at Warner's instead of on Poverty Row, we would be hailing "Lady Luck" as a classic along the order of a Preston Sturges piece. It really is that zingy.
Cultural and racial stereotypes are lovingly exploited for inoffensive comedic effect: Patrica Farr plays Mamie Murphy, a spunky Irish American manicurist who has to fight off the wolves in the fancy hotel barbershop where she works. (Also, as a completely irrelevant aside, her voice timbre and accent remind me a lot of Judy Garland. Strange but true.) Duncan Reynaldo (pre Cisco Kid) plays Tony Morelli, a slick Italian mobster and nightclub boss. He's saddled with a jealous Latin spitfire of a girlfriend named Rita (Iris Adrian). Mamie is picked to win the Irish Sweepstakes -- but then another Mamie Murphy shows up, a warm-hearted Irish washerwoman, no less, played by the underrated Lulu McConnell. The two women team up to pose as aunt and niece, and agree to split the profits from the race.
Young Mamie's frustrated true love is an all-American boy reporter, played by William Bakewell, but she dumps him for a British "financial sculptor" (i.e. a chiseler) played by Jameson Thomas, but although he poses as a wealthy suitor, he is so broke he has to borrow money from his equally British valet, the delightful Robert Corey, just to take Mamie out to Morelli's night club. Then murder -- or at least a bit of gun play -- enters the scene when meek, bespectacled Mr. Hemingway (Arthur Hoyt) is informed that Conroy has been seen at Morelli's in the company of his bullish blonde wife Cora Hemmingway, played with mesmerizing lesbian overtones by the alternately brooding and baby-talking Vivian Oakland.
Along the way we get dancing chorus girls, a French maid, the wonderfully laconic checkers-playing Irish detective James O'Reilly (Lew Kelly at his very best), a babyish Irish hood (Claud Allister) who gets his first manicure and wishes his mother were still alive to see his clean fingernails, a smiling black shoeshine guy who does a towel-dance on Morelli's shoes, an incomprehensibly accented Latino head barber (Pedro Regas), a freaked out and eye-rolling black elevator operator (Ray Turner), and the hilarious team of Charles Lane and Joe Barton as Feinberg and Goldberg, a pair of fast-talking Jewish celebrity agents ("You wanna be notorious? Call Feinberg, Goldberg, Rosenberg, and O'Rooney." ... "What? You think business comes to a stop just because a guy's been killed? Sign here.") Oh yeah, a guy does get killed. But that's not the point -- this is just a sweet little depression-era confection that is more lovable that you'd expect from a plot synopsis. It's not A-list stuff, but it's well worth the few bucks you'll spend to buy it on DVD. Oh, and by the way, speaking of DVDs, except for a few pops and cuts, the print i got from Alpha Video was an extremely crisp, clean, and evenly exposed copy with excellent sound quality that showed off Charles Lamont's directing and the nice set decorations, and caught every bit of the snappy patter. "Lady Luck" is my sleeper selection of the month. Try it -- i think you'll like this one!
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