Archive for August 20, 2010

Best Foot Forward

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , on August 20, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The story centers around Lucille Ball who plays herself against an unlikely backdrop, namely, a military academy full of frisky boys. Ball is the reluctant guest of a diminutive cadet, Bud Hooper (Dix), who wrote her a mash note and invitation to be his date at a school prom.

Ball’s publicity man, Jack O’Riley (Gaxton), seizes upon the situation as a perfect PR stunt and convinces her to travel 3,000 miles to join Hooper at Winsocki Military Academy’s dance. When Ball actually shows up, mayhem ensues. Hooper, who never dreamed she would accept, has to disinvite his girlfriend, Helen (Weidler), and ask Ball to pretend to be Helen, lest the actress herself not pass muster with the institution’s screening committee.

Helen fights back while Hooper tries to keep Ball from the clutches of other cadets who want to steal her for their dates of their own. Meanwhile, Harry James and his orchestra perform various songs, including “The Flight of the Bumblebee”. The cast also sing and dance their way through such numbers as “Buckle Down, Winsocki” (the tune co-opted in the 1960s for “Buckle Up for Safety”), “Wish I May,” “Three Men on a Date”, “Alive and Kickin'”, “The Barrelhouse, The Boogie-Woogie and the Blues”, and “Ev’rytime”

REVIEW:

I’m a huge fan of Lucille Ball and Harry James, but had never heard of this flick until I was watching a biography of Lucy on PBS the other day. Every trailer and clip I’ve seen of this flick makes it seem like it is a laugh riot full of grat music from James. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Don’t get me wrong, there is Lucy and some music, but it sort of takes a backseat to this rather thin plot.

Since this is a musical, I have to mention the songs, which aren’t the worst I’ve heard, but, with the exception of those performed by the Harry James Orchestra, which were big hits already, none are really memorable, which doesn’t bode well for a musical.

This is a comedy, but they don’t capitalize on the comedic talent they have. For goodness sakes, they have the queen of comedy, Lucille Ball, and don’t really use her as anything more than eye candy! I think the filmmakers overestimated the ability to deliver some funny punchlines by these actors. More physical comedy would have worked better, especially since they insisted on dragging Lucy around like a rag doll.

I will say, though, that the choreography was quite impressive, especially in the first and final songs.

Best Foot Forward has its moments here and there, but they aren’t enough to make this a memorable film. This isn’t bad, by any stretch of the imagination, it just doesn’t resonate or stick with the viewer. It could have been so much better with jut a couple of little tweaks. Having said that, I would recommend this to my readers that like the classics. While it isn’t a must-see, it is a should-see.

3  1/2 out of 5 stars

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