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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Classic Film Review: Lucky Partners (1940)

Lucky Partners stars Ginger Rogers as Jean Newton, a woman who gets given a free dress minutes after a stranger wishes her 'good luck' in the street. Seeing him again, she has an idea: since he's already brought her luck, maybe he could do it again by going halves with her on a sweepstake ticket. When the stranger, David Grant (Ronald Colman), questions her motives, she explains she wants to win the money so that she can be an independent woman even after she marries her fiancé, Freddie Harper (Jack Carson). Grant agrees to go in on the scheme but only if they - Jean and David - go on a honeymoon together before she marries Freddie. By some trickery, Grant persuades Freddie to accept this plan and when they gain some money Jean and David are off, without exactly telling Freddie about it first.

Rogers is sublime in this, even if the plot is downright silly, particularly when Grant's true identity is revealed in the final third. But Rogers adds her own personal charm to the role, frequently reacting to events and comments with the precise expression required. Her performance in this is very similar to Judy Garland's in my favourite film The Harvey Girls (1946), with the same level of intimacy with the audience and personal insecurity that Garland offers so well. In addition, Rogers's comic talents are on top form from the moment she wanders down the street into the view of Colman's character to her final turn in the courtroom. Do I think she works well opposite Colman? Well, yes, surprisingly. Their verbal styles ricochet off each other and there are some delightful little moments between them.

Jack Carson deserves a mention for his portrayal of a suspicious and jealous fiancé whose only claim to fame is being in insurance. Spring Byington is excellent as Aunt Lucy, having a few amusing moments throughout. However, a special mention has to go out to Harry Davenport as the judge who unravels the mess at the end of the film. His kindly demeanour matches Rogers's contrite and polite persona perfectly - well, until it doesn't!

This is a gorgeous little film, a bit crazy plot-wise but easily balanced out with charm and humour.

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