Now we have one of those all-star type of musicals made during the second World War to help benefit the troops, the 1943 movie Thank Your Lucky Stars. Since the billing for the movie was alphabetical order due to how big some of the stars were at the time (and not on how involved they were in this movie’s plot), I’ll try to list them according to their parts in the movie. We have Eddie Cantor, Eddie Cantor (yes, I listed him twice on purpose), Dennis Morgan, Joan Leslie, Edward Everett Horton and S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall.
In this movie, we have Eddie Cantor playing a dual role as himself and Joe Simpson, a wannabe dramatic actor who can’t find work due to his resemblance to Eddie Cantor. Farnsworth (Edward Everett Horton) and Dr. Schlenna (S. Z. Sakall) are putting on a wartime benefit with celebrity performers, and they want Dinah Shore for the show. There’s just one problem: she’s under contract to Eddie Cantor, and they can’t get her without him. So they reluctantly agree and almost immediately regret it, as he takes over and does things his way. Elsewhere, we have wannabe singer Tommy Randolph (Dennis Morgan) and the aspiring songwriter Pat Dixon (Joan Leslie), who conspire to get Tommy into the show as a performer. They convince their friend Joe Simpson to impersonate Eddie Cantor while they get the real Eddie out of the way for a while.
As you can see from my description, the plot isn’t this movie’s strength (and, quite frankly, I doubt it was intended to be). This movie was supposed to be a morale booster for audiences at home. And I think it still works in that fashion, at least for me! I would probably describe the movie as being part musical (although, as usual for the times, the music doesn’t really serve the plot) and part revue, since the various stars are just doing various songs and dances (although it’s more like a talent show, since, outside of the movie’s leads, the stars are dramatic actors and actresses doing something out of their comfort zone). Speaking of the stars…
There’s such a wide assortment of celebrities in this movie that it could easily become a big discussion on just that, but I’ll try to keep it short by mentioning only a few moments that I enjoy. In spite of his prominent billing, Humphrey Bogart is only onscreen for a little more than a minute, but such a fun moment! While this movie works best when the viewers actually have an idea of what the various screen personas were at that time, a few are self-explanatory, like Bogie’s run-in with Dr. Schlenna. Seriously, the idea that a tough guy like Bogie looks weak against that teddy bear of a man is hilarious! Then there is Spike Jones And His City Slickers with their rendition of “Hotcha Cornia.” Seriously, why can’t orchestras play that way anymore, it’s so fun to watch (I highly recommend looking it up on YouTube at least)! Most of the stars were trying to sing, but the only memorable dancing is provided by Alexis Smith and her two male partners during the song “Good Night, Good Neighbor,” in which she does quite a few impressive lifts. And of course, that’s only just a few, with stars such as Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, John Garfield and many others getting in on the fun (also worth mentioning is one of Eddie Cantor’s regulars from his radio show, Bert Gordon, also known as “the Mad Russian,” whose only line is his well-known catchphrase “How do you do?”)! Again, this movie was intended to be a morale booster, but it works, and I would indeed recommend it as such!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection.
Film Length: 2 hours, 7 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
The Maltese Falcon (1941) – Humphrey Bogart – To Have And Have Not (1944)
Now, Voyager (1942) – Bette Davis – Another Man’s Poison (1952)
Santa Fe Trail (1940) – Olivia de Havilland
Santa Fe Trail (1940) – Errol Flynn
The Sea Wolf (1941) – John Garfield
The Sky’s The Limit (1943) – Joan Leslie
The Sea Wolf (1941) – Ida Lupino – On Dangerous Ground (1951)
Kitty Foyle (1940) – Dennis Morgan – Christmas In Connecticut (1945)
The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) – Ann Sheridan – The Opposite Sex (1956)
Dinah Shore – Make Mine Music (1946)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – George Tobias – The Glenn Miller Story (1954)
Lucky Partners (1940) – Jack Carson – Romance On The High Seas (1948)
Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) – Edward Everett Horton – Down To Earth (1947)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall – Christmas In Connecticut (1945)
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