|Index||9 reviews in total|
Personally, I've always felt that the best comedies were the ones where
you could actually believe in the situations--in other words, the
events are things that could have happened. THE AFFAIRS OF ANNABEL is
funny in spots, but hasn't got a single moment that is in touch with
JACK OAKIE plays a scheming publicity man who dreams up the most outrageous ways of getting attention (newspaper headlines) for his fading star LUCILLE BALL, her film career supposedly on the wane. One plan involves getting her to spend three days in prison (which turns out to be 30 days) and to have the press on hand when she's released. The plan backfires, of course, and Lucy fires him.
She rehires him when he gets a little old lady (LEONA ROBERTS, Mrs. Meade from GWTW), to pretend to be his sick mother who needs money for an operation. Lucy relents and he comes up with another scheme--her next film is called "The Maid and the Man" so he gets her work as a maid in a wacky household. It turns out the house has become the nest for two infamous criminals and Lucy, of course, gets into the thick of things while Oakie tries to rescue her by hiring fake police officers to storm the house.
It had possibilities but emerges as a scatterbrained comedy without any real foothold on reality. THURSTON HALL is fun as a plate breaking scientist and RUTH DONNELLY has a few good one-liners as a studio receptionist, but other than that the gags are pretty hard to swallow at times.
Best that can be said is that LUCILLE BALL shows skill at this sort of comedy and looks pert and pretty throughout. OAKIE overplays the press agent with outlandish schemes but is fun to watch.
If you love Lucy, you'll find this acceptable fare but lacking in so many departments.
It's easy to see why one viewer would love this movie and another
couldn't stand it. I have had both reactions the two times I saw it.
Boy, I loved this the first time I viewed it and then was totally bored on the second viewing 10 years later, so it's hard to evaluate. Suffice to say it does have it's share of laughs which isn't surprising since Lucille Ball and Jack Oakie star. However, the humor is so corny one might see no humor in this - it all depends on what you like.
It WAS interesting to see a young (26 or 27-year-old) Ball, who was very attractive woman at that age. Oakie is okay because he looks funny. He doesn't even have to say anything to get a laugh, which sometimes is better because he played a number of roles over the years in which he delivered a lot of stupid lines!
Like a lot of comedies, it's very silly but the shortness of the film (68 minutes) helps in that regard, preventing it from becoming too silly for too long. There were some funny supporting roles in here, too. Like me, you might really laugh at this or think it's a waste of time: hard to say.
Considering that Lucille Ball and Jack Oakie were friends as well as
neighbors in California, who made four movies together, and that both
were highly regarded comic actors, you'd think that the two of them
would make a great on-screen comedy team, right?
Not in "The Affairs of Annabel," an okay but not particularly compelling short comedy. The writing is unexceptional, there are no memorable lines from the script, the plot is not even remotely realistic, and I have no idea how the Ball/Oakie relationship was intended to develop. I think the plot was supposed to build, so that Oakie slowly falls in love with his attractive young meal ticket, but that never really went anywhere. The production was no great accomplishment, either, with some fairly obvious cuts between Ball and her stunt woman during some of the martial arts scenes.
But the acting prevents this film from being a complete dud. Most of the cast are experienced comic actors who squeeze what they can out of the material they're given. And the movie was popular enough that it spawned a sequel, and apparently there were supposed to be more, except that Oakie held out for too much money and killed the deal, which is probably for the best. So what the heck? It's only an hour, so what do you have to lose? Have a glass of wine and enjoy a little early Lucille Ball. The movie will probably be over before you've finished your second glass.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
That's what Wonder Pictures PR agent Jack Oakie believes, and he
intends to get movie star Annabelle Allison's (Lucille Ball) name in
the paper no matter what it takes. Whether its a 30 day stretch in the
hoosegow on a phony charge for petty larceny (she's got a prison
picture coming out) or being framed for smuggling jewelry because of
the title of her next film, Allison's name will be in the papers no
matter what she has to suffer through. Now, she's playing a maid in a
film, so naturally, Oakie gets HER a job as a maid. But they don't
count on her employer's wacky brother (Thurston Hall, cast very much
against type) inviting crooks into the household, getting the entire
family (including Ball) kidnapped.
More than a decade before conquering TV and becoming the official "Queen of Comedy", Lucille Ball played a variety of comic roles that showcased her talent for getting involved in wacky situations and making them hysterically funny. There were two movies made about fictional movie star Annabelle Allison, and in them, Ball and Oakie uses every trick in the book in spoofing the Hollywood publicity machine. They are surrounded by a top-notch supporting cast, including Fritz Feld (as a Russian director "demanding realism"), Elisabeth Risdon (as Ball's employer), and especially Ruth Donnelly as the movie studio head secretary, wryly predicting her boss's every move and responding with "I've already made the call" every time he gives her an order. Donnelly, with her long stint at Warner Brothers, is just one of many reasons that 30's movies are so good! Lee Van Atta is very cute as Risdon's puberty aged son who has a crush on Ball. Just to clarify, the black woman (Madame Sul-Te-Wan) in the prison scene (which highly resembles the "Cell Block Tango" number from "Chicago") and the black maid (Mildred Gover) whom Ball replaces are two totally different women; I had to clarify this due to their similar appearances.
Cheeky movie actress at Wonder Pictures masquerades as a maid to a dotty suburban family for publicity reasons, but the household is soon taken over by two gangsters. It's "The Desperate Hours" as a rollicking comedy! Screen adaptation of Charles Hoffman's short story "Menial Star" proves short on laughs, even with Jack Oakie and Lucille Ball in the leads. Some of the screwball business with the family is funny--as is an opening gimmick with Ball posing as a prison inmate...and getting 30 days behind bars! Much of the rest is strident and silly, including the familiar asides at the movie studio (featuring the proverbial ever-patient secretary). Opening in September 1938, the picture was followed with a sequel just two months later! *1/2 from ****
With her latest film flopping, "Wonder Pictures" movie star Lucille
Ball (as Annabel Allison) goes along with studio publicist Jack Oakie
(as Lanny Morgan) and gets herself sent to prison for petty larceny.
After thirty days behind bars, Ms. Ball is furious. But she forgives
Mr. Oakie and accepts his next idea. To prepare for the movie about a
maid, Ball poses as one. She attracts teenager Lee Van Atta (as Robert
"Bob" Fletcher) and almost botches a dinner. After Oakie helps with the
catering, a couple of kidnappers (sans kid) arrive and take the
household hostage. The comedy never makes any sense, but the cast has
good energy. "The Affairs of Annabel" was introduced to filmgoers as
the first of a film series. After the second entry, "Annabel Takes a
Tour" (1938), it ended.
***** The Affairs of Annabel (9/9/38) Benjamin Stoloff ~ Lucille Ball, Jack Oakie, Thurston Hall, Elisabeth Risdon
I must disagree with the other reviewer; this film is, by far, the funniest film that Lucille Ball EVER MADE! There are Great routines: Ball in prison, trying to cook a meal, being a maid, etc. Each of these is Ball at her funniest! (If this film wasn't any good, why was a sequel -- which was very UNfunny -- made?). Ball, in contrast to the grating "dizzy dame" bit she overkilled on TV (didn't her whining make you want to BELT her one?), here she is fresh and beautiful, and reminds me a lot of Alexis Smith. This comedy is a Must See for Lucille Ball fans! Norm
Rather forced comedy with Lucille Ball as a movie star who lets her publicity agent Jack Oakie get her into one far-fetched scheme after another. Considering Lucy would become famous for getting into far-fetched situations on television, you'd think this might work. Well, it doesn't. The thing is that while I Love Lucy was full of harebrained schemes and outlandish situations, they were usually rooted in some reality. The laughs were earned. Here, it's all wackiness for the sake of wackiness and it feels very contrived. Jack Oakie plays a walking cartoon character, very annoying and full of the dumbest ideas. He's supposed to be a send-up of real publicity agents, exaggerated for effect. But he's exaggerated too much, in my opinion. He never feels like a real person. Lucy, looking pretty as ever, tries her able best to make the most of the material she's given but her character is another that's tough to accept. She doesn't seem like a stupid person yet, for the sake of the plot, she goes along with the obviously moronic ideas of Oakie. Still, her fans will enjoy seeing her in this early starring role. The movie is helped some by a nice supporting cast, all of which do their best. This was followed by a sequel but thankfully not more than one. Recommended for die-hard Lucy fans but that's it.
This was an ok satire on the movie business from that famous red head, Lucille Ball. Also, a long forgotten actor named Jack Oakie lended Miss Ball support. This was actually better than I expected. Usually, comedies such as these that last a little over an hour aren't exactly a great film-viewing experience. But I enjoyed the director who was a little crazed and Hollywood's view on itself.
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