Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. [Volume 39, Issue 8. April 1976]
Film Review: Lucky Lady
Film Review: Lucky Lady
When a star is born a superb birth is in order, and Liza Minnelli certainly gave us that in Cabaret. But one also expects fur their greatness: Lucky Lady is her first film to follow and is an unqualified disaster.
The story concerns three small-timers running whisky from Mexico into the States in 1930 They develop an ostensibly lovable menage-a-trois, run into trouble with the local mob but manage to kill them all, and live happily ever after.
We are supposed to be watching a glorious series of jokes, slapstick, tomfoolery and sheer lunacy, yet all this is without exception embarrassingly-badly done.
Minnelli is Clare, a no-hope singer in a run-down Mexican night-club. Clare is not Sally Bowles, and while it is to Minnelli's credit that she so painstakingly tries to: throw off the mantle of the latter, it is unfortunate that her better moments occur when, just for a word or a gesture, she forgets to do just that.
Sally was a fascinating character; Clare is a bore. When the two men muse on her magnetism, one wonders whom the hell they are talking about.
Burt Reynolds plays Walker, an idiot through and through who can't even manage to be endearing. He looks (as he so often does) as if he hasn't a clue what's going on, and this time I don't entirely blame him. He is supposed to provide most of the slapstick, but has an uncanny knack of seeming to do something funny as if it really isn't meant to be.
Gene Hackman plays Kippy (the level headed partner), quietly smiling, but with an even more blatant lack of enthusiasm than Minnelli has for her role.
The basic trouble is that director Stanley Donen doesn't have the ghost of an idea of how to make a movie. Most of the conversations are inaudible and sound as if they were recorded on a swinging boom mike which made sporadic passes near the actors. (This isn't as annoying as it could be because one very quickly gets the impression one isn't missing much).
When one does hear the script, it sounds like an unhappy mixture of first-take improvised inanities and old jokes which the actors do their level best to ruih.
Visually the film is worse. Situations are painfully set up but completely lack the delightful predictability of, for exam pie a Blake Edw3rds comedy. To counter this (I presume) a number of visual jokes happen almost off-camera and do not play the role they should in creating a frivolous mood.
It is as if the cast consider they are not making a comedy but don't know what else it might be.
The gangsters look and sound like insipid versions of the old dummies in double-breasted suits toting machine-guns. To top it all off, even the big showdown with its requisite sharp-shooting, spectacular deaths and daredeviling-cum-buffoonery is unexciting.
At one point in the film someone asks of the three, "Waddya think they are, gangsters?' 'No', is the reply 'just Hollywood bums' I really couldn't believe it.
— Simon Wilson