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Norman Z. McLeod
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Toni Gerard lands in New York with 38 cents to her name and is befriended by fortune teller Madame Zenobia and a neighboring shooting gallery owner. Toni is smitten with Brad, a lawyer/suitor to Jo, one of Zenobia's "clients." When Zenobia is slightly injured, Toni takes her place and uses her newly found influence to meet Brad, and break up the budding romance between him and Jo. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The plot is beyond silly...but Paulette makes a charming schemer...
THE CRYSTAL BALL has such a hackneyed plot about a conniving woman out to get herself a wealthy husband (in fact, two women with the same idea), but the plot complications have serious undertones and there's not enough witty banter to make it digestible. Audiences must have been starving for light, fluffy nonsense like this during WWII, but despite some funny moments it's nothing but a predictable romantic comedy.
What does help are the performances of Paulette Goddard, Ray Milland and Virginia Field as the romantic trio. Lost in the shuffle are William Bendix, Cecil Kellaway and other supporting players who have very little to do but stand around agape at the stupid plot whose ripest comic moments include a waiter who inevitably trips and falls whenever Goddard is within close range.
Paulette is a down on her heels gal with 38 cents in her pocketbook who needs help from fortune-teller Gladys George (totally wasted). When GG becomes ill, it's Paulette who is designated to take her place as the crystal ball fortune-teller who gets involved in the budding romance between rich playboy Milland and his widowed sweetheart Field.
None of it makes any sense and the situations are played for screwball comedy effect with only a couple of successful moments where the comedy is pitched to the right key. Both stars try hard, but the material is really beneath them.
However, fans of Goddard and Milland will find it easy enough to forgive the nonsensical plot and enjoy the stars at their physical peak.
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