In 2011, I announced I was trying to see every film released in 1939. This new series chronicles films released in 1939 as I watch them. As we start out this blog feature, this section may become more concrete as I search for a common thread that runs throughout each film of the year. Right now, that’s difficult.
Lucky Night (1939)
May 4, 1939
Myrna Loy, Robert Taylor, Joseph Allen, Henry O’Neill, Douglas Fowley, Charles Lane, Bernard Nedell, Gladys Blake, Marjorie Main, Bernadene Hayes, Irving Bacon, Frank Faylen (uncredited)
Cora Jordan (Loy) is rich and doesn’t know what she wants out of life. After jilting her suitor, she decides to break free from her rich father (O’Neill) to see if she can find what she’s looking for. While unsuccessfully looking for a job, she meets unemployed Bill Overton (Taylor). The two team up for a lucky evening of gambling. The fun is complicated when they marry when Bill wants to keep having fun and Cora feels they should be more serious.
By the numbers:
• Myrna Loy was in three films released in 1939.
• Robert Taylor was in four films released in 1939.
• Marjorie Main was in six films released in 1939.
• Gladys Blake was in eight films released in 1939.
• Douglas Fowley was in nine films released in 1939.
• The only film that Myrna Loy and Robert Taylor starred together in.
My review: Searching for the “1939 feature”:
When you see the cast you think may think, “Myrna Loy and Robert Taylor in 1939! This must be great.”
Sadly, it’s not. And you have to wonder if that’s why “Lucky Night” is the only film that Loy and Taylor starred together.
But the fault here isn’t with the stars – both Loy and Taylor act in their usual fantastic fashion. It’s the story. In “Lucky Night,” Loy plays Cora, a bored and wealthy woman who doesn’t know what she wants. To seek that out, she shuns her rich father’s millions and goes to find a job. Unsuccessful, she’s ready to get a goodnight’s sleep on a park bench when she meets Bill, played by Robert Taylor. Bill is also unemployed, and together in one night, Bill finds that Cora makes him lucky. They win money in a slot machine, win a car in a raffle, and capture a thief that has a reward attached. To celebrate, they drunkenly get married.
Up to this point, the story is silly but okay. Then it shifts – in marriage, Bill expects the same whirlwind life they experienced in that one night with Miss Excitement, his nickname for Cora. But Cora is ready to settle down, rent an apartment and send Bill to work.
Bill doesn’t like to work, and Cora likes to pay the bills. They eventually split and Cora returns home to her rich dad (Henry O’Neill). But unsurprisingly (this really shouldn’t be a spoiler, because you knew it would happen), they end up together and I THINK Bill is going back to work? That part isn’t clear.
I found plots like this frustrating – one spouse likes to be free and not work and the person who wants to pay the bills is the kill joy.
The script really was better suited for more B-level MGM stars of 1939 than A-listers like Loy and Taylor. I could have seen someone like Florence Rice and Robert Taylor in these roles instead. Still big stars, but on their second-tier.
To be fair, there are a couple of funny scenes. I laughed when polished Myrna Loy was sticking up the criminal.
But this certainly is one of 1939’s more forgettable films, and I’m sure it’s leading stars would prefer you to forget it too. Loy and Taylor are often associated with style and charm, and this film doesn’t have any of that.