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Dick Powell is a completely relaxed Island Scavenger and his sidekick,
Eddie Bracken, has a girl friend, Betty Hutton, who is fanatically
crazy about him. Betty uses an energetic approach which would wear out
three sidekicks. Dick's co-star, Mary Martin, flashes a great pair of
legs in the show's stopper, "Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom-De-Ay". I was only thirteen
when I saw this show and I think she made a leg-man of me. Miss Martin
has set out for the sole purpose of catching herself a millionaire,
Rudy Vallee. Rudy does the rich shtick very well, through his nose, and
is a fore-runner of Mister Howell of Gilligan's Island fame. The site
is also somewhat familiar.
Mary Martin and Dick Powell make a healthy, handsome couple who are a pleasure to watch, giving an effortless performance. The movie was aptly named and was a thoroughly satisfactory piece of entertainment. But then, again, she was a fine looking lady in those days and maybe it was just adolescence. By the way, the picture is in really good color.
In 1942 Dick Powell signed a contract with Paramount Pictures on
condition that he vary his roles and would occasionally do some
dramatic films which Warner Brothers had refused to cast him in. But
his first film for them was Star Spangled Rhythm and his bit part in
that wartime musical was with Mary Martin doing probably the best
number in the film, Hit the Road to Dreamland. They certainly seemed
well suited for each other.
With that in mind Powell got to do his first color film Happy Go Lucky with Martin the following year. But for some reason Mary Martin never quite clicked with film audiences. I'm at a loss to know why myself because she certainly had a sparkling personality.
Powell did this one with Martin with the hope that dramatic parts would eventually come his way and Happy Go Lucky is certainly amusing enough. Powell and Eddie Bracken play a pair of beachcombers on a tropical island in the Caribbean created nicely on the Paramount sound stage. Martin is a cigarette girl pretending to be a débutante hoping to land a rich husband and her sights are set on Rudy Vallee who is reprising his role from The Palm Beach Story replete with glasses and all. Also along for the ride is Betty Hutton who is a fellow cigarette girl traveling with Martin and an old flame of Bracken's.
Certainly Bracken and Hutton seemed to team well together as they had in The Fleet's In and Star Spangled Rhythm and both would be used again to even bigger acclaim by Preston Sturges in The Miracle of Morgan's Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero. In fact Hutton stole the film right out from under the leads with her rousing rendition of Murder He Says.
As long as Rudy Vallee and Dick Powell were appearing in the same film it would have been nice if they had sung together, but Rudy did not sing a note and an opportunity was lost.
I don't think I have to talk about the plot too much more with the ingredients I've given you, I'm sure you know exactly how this will all come out. The only other item involved in this film is a voodoo love potion that apparently is spread to victim like you were spraying your garden for pests.
Happy Go Lucky is an amusing average comedy from Paramount that led to nothing for its leads, but it's supporting cast did just fine.
The musical cinema careers of both stars was almost at an end when this film was released.Dick Powell clearly knew that his time as a juve lead was nearing its natural end as he appeared in "Farewell My Lovely" the following year.Mary Martin made one more film in this era before returning to the stage.She made very few films so a musical such as this is of great interest .Although she is quite delightful i do not think that she had the glamour of say Rita hayworth or the brashness of Betty Grable to enable her screen career to really take off.All of her performances that i have seen have been engaging without being memorable.Dick Powell does what he had been doing for 10 years on screen.Betty Hutton,Eddie Bracken and Rudy Vallee all lend support in this very entertaining and colourful 40s musical.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While Mary Martin doesn't sing the Cole Porter song she first sang on
Broadway in "Leave It to Me" and later repeated in the fictional
biography "Night and Day", she's definitely looking for her daddy here.
She comments on that when responding to a man's question "Who's your
daddy?" after telling him that the jewelry she's wearing came from him.
"My father, if that's what you mean", giving him a slow-burn double
take. Martin and penniless Dick Powell team together to get into
multi-millionaire Rudy Vallee's good races while rowdy singer Betty
Hutton goes after ex-fiancée Eddie Bracken. "It's Murder He Says!" she
sings in her outrageous style.
In an episode where Hutton and Martin pull a Lucy and Ethel, they attempt to make a big dinner to impress Vallee, ruining the meal and their evening gowns, proving that cooking is a way to a man's heartburn. The overabundance of rice that they cook is similar to the loaf of bread that Lucy and Ethel made on that famous "I Love Lucy" episode a decade later. It's obvious where this light musical comedy is going as far as Martin and Powell, and it's all there South American style in glorious Technicolor.
Clem Bevans and Mabel Paige provide sardonic commentary as an elderly couple viewing all the goings on. Other gags are ripped off from other films include the shower scene from "My Man Godrey" and the ripped dress sequence from "Bringing Up Baby". Martin, whose film career never got past a handful of Paramout musical comedies, proves herself to be an able comedian, while Powell, trying to get away from musicals, only sings a few unremarkable songs. Hutton and Bracken were such a success that they were cast together by Preston Sturges in the comedy classic "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek".
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