Annabel Takes a Tour (1938) Poster

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Lucy Goes on Tour
wes-connors9 August 2011
"Wonder Pictures" movie star Lucille Ball (as Annabel Allison) feels her career is in trouble after rival Francis Mercer (as Natalie Preston) eclipses her in popularity and becomes engaged to a nobleman. In spite of his mishandling her publicity in the recently released "The Affairs of Annabel" (1938), Ms. Ball insists publicist Jack Oakie (as Lanny Morgan) be rehired. Ball and Mr. Oakie go on a "Good Will Tour" to promote her new movie. This entry continues Ball's romantic interest in Oakie, which came out of nowhere in the earlier film, and adds courtly Ralph Forbes (as Ronald River-Clyde) to the mix...

Odd as it seems, Ball's dramatic movie characterizations were better than her comic roles during 1930s and 1940s. Her delivery is often very abrasive, and she sometimes seems like she might hurt one of the other actors, or herself; the "Lucy" character she developed on radio (1948) and television (1951) was more finely tuned. This was the second, and last, film in the "Annabel" series. The first one was better, with the time "Annabel" spent as maid to a family being most appealing. Here, hotel manicurist Alice White (as Marcella) is very funny, and grown-up Wesley Barry looks good in a walk on role.

**** Annabel Takes a Tour (11/11/38) Lew Landers ~ Lucille Ball, Jack Oakie, Ralph Forbes, Alice White
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One of a Fairly humorous Series
tmpj1 July 2002
Jack Oakie and Lucille Ball are no Lucy and Desi, to be sure. But Jack Oakie evokes laughter without effort. This one is full of further hi-jinx of the ne'er do well starlet and her insane publicity man. Not great movies, but all of the Annabel flix are worthwhile watches because they are good, clean, honest fun. Oakie did others on his own for RKO, some of which are good ONLY because he's there. He did his share of clunkers, and sometimes he appears in films with material that I personally find objectionable. But on the whole, he's one of the funniest characters in film ( and good with drama !!). Obviously Lucy cut her comedic teeth in these films. She can only steal a scene from Oakie by taking pratfalls or by being the butt of jokes. I dig Oakie, Lucy, and the "Annabel" films.
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Jack Oakie and Lucille Ball are wasted in an unfunny screenplay.
Arthur Hausner7 April 1999
A lackluster screenplay doesn't help this comedy about a movie star, Lucille Ball, whose publicity man, Jack Oakie, uses stupid schemes to get her name in the newspapers. Unfortunately, very little of the film is funny, but it was nice to see a very young Lucille Ball, even in black and white. Ball, Oakie, Bradley Page and Ruth Donnelly reprised their roles in this second and last film based on the characters created in the 1938 film "The Affairs of Annabel" by Charles Hoffman. There would have been more in the series, but Oakie wanted too large a fee for his services.
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"I took a ten foot fall and landed on page four".
classicsoncall1 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
If you get the chance to see Lucille Ball in a flick before she became Lucy, you should take advantage of it. You'll see an actress who was actually quite beautiful, dare I say, even gorgeous when you get right down to it. This 'Annabel' picture showcases Miss Ball admirably in the looks department, but unfortunately, the story falls flat the rest of the way. Most everything about it seems a bit off kilter - the attempt at screwball comedy doesn't click much of the time, and the romance between Annabel and the Viscount (Ralph Forbes) doesn't deliver even the hint of romance. Jack Oakie provides some of the enthusiasm the picture needed, but he can't pull it off all by himself. On top of it all, the scenes just didn't seem to connect with one another as the story unfolded. Hard to put a finger on it, but something was missing.

What you do get a preview of is Lucy auditioning some of the schtick she would become famous for as that dizzy redhead with the Cuban husband. Falling off a horse and performing various other pratfalls seems more in line with the character we all came to know very well in the Fifties. The problem here is that she was supposed to be a glamorous actress, but her character was written haphazardly and with no clear sense of direction. Early in the picture she seems to be carrying on a romance with her agent Lanny Morgan (Oakie), and then suddenly does a one eighty when Ronald River-Clyde comes on the scene. Even his character is muddled, starting out as a sophisticated aristocrat and then revealed as a louse with a wife and two kids. The lack of continuity with these characters was just disappointing.

But if you were to make a wager that Lucy never got involved in a cat-fight on screen, you'd lose that bet in a hurry. I have to say, it was a little strange to see her rolling around the floor like that. But Annabel did have one good observation worth mentioning. She described Chicago as a city full of strange things, and that was way back in 1939. Can you imagine what she'd have to say if Blago was around back then.
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First and Last Annabel Sequel
utgard1415 June 2014
Tired sequel to the uninspired Affairs of Annabel. It's more of the same with publicity agent Jack Oakie getting movie star Lucille Ball into wild stunts for the sake of publicity. All of the problems with the last movie are still here. Oakie is still annoying and not very funny. Lucy plays a smart woman who seems to lose all of her sense when Oakie suggests one of his stupid ideas. The movie starts off with Lucy demanding the studio head hire back Oakie, who was apparently fired between the first movie and this one. She keeps saying how he gets her good publicity, which contradicts the first movie. Then, almost as soon as he's hired back, she starts complaining about his schemes. The few positives of the last movie are still here, as well. Lucy is lovely to look at and she tries to make the most of the weak material. The supporting cast is an asset, including the great Donald MacBride. Lucy fans will enjoy this more than most. There aren't many laughs to be had but the likable cast makes it watchable.
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Sometimes It Is People
tedg17 September 2005
Serious film nuts are out there. I get mail from waves of them every day as I run in the dark, stepping on feet with my comments.

There seem to be two kinds of zealots: those attached to genres and archetypes and those attached to specific people, actors and directors.

I usually blow off the email about actors. Usually actors don't have much to do with the movies they are in, and when they do it is because they coordinate their intent with that of the filmmaker. And except for a short list, most actors — like their brethren politicians — are just dull, empty people.

But I feel differently about actors in the 30s and 40s. Some of them. Those of interest just happened to be there when movies settled down after the great confusions: sound, color, the code, and the great quest of movies to define themselves.

If you want to understand your imagination, you need to follow the grooves in film. And to do that you need to see the family tree of genres, and that is only found in 30s and 40s films. The genres, naturally enough, co-evolved with certain film archetypes, and most of those were invented by actors.

Some of these actors are forgotten while their character type remains: Edna May Oliver. Some have become icons themselves, like Jimmy Stewart. Lucille Ball is worth following.

Any of these icons is worth seeing in their early work when they play characters who are actors. In this case, Lucille is an actress trying to establish an identity (which she did eventually and wonderfully) playing an actress doing the same thing. Oakie plays all the dumb jokes, so is usually that attentiongetter in the Annabel films.

But take a look at this woman. She said she wasn't funny but brave. You can see that. You can also see that she invented her walk after losing that ability because of sickness. And you can already see how she engineers her fake eyebrows after losing those. Her face isn't a funny one, but she makes it so with her mouth and eyes and those eyes are inherently comic, but painted on.

You can also see her — or rather her character — working out how to pair with the type that became Ethyl Merman.

This was in the day when she was a brunette.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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