Lucky Lady (1975)

STANLEY DONEN

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.  

USA, 1975.  .  Screenplay by , .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  Golden Globe Awards 1975.

and fail in their attempt to make big money running undocumented Mexicans across the border from Tijuana, so they go with the next best operation: joining up with shady drifter , they take their boat the Lucky Lady up the western shore with plenty of prohibition-era liquor, overcoming some impressive challenges along the way.  A big-time bootlegger who has no patience for independent rumrunners tries to sabotage them, while the coast guard is determined to keep booze out of the United States of America and almost sinks them.  Succeeding with their first sailing, they enjoy a walk on easy street with the cash they collect until they decide to make it a business and keep the money rolling in, at the same time developing a personal relationship that sees Minnelli keeping her end up with both men equally (and sometimes, naughty naughty, at the same time!)  Confused direction by Stanley Donen ruins what should be a delightful affair, combining gritty violence, a Noel Coward-worthy romance (sans the censorship of his era) with a flavour of retro-jazz-age satire that never finds its footing; it’s hard to know what kind of movie you’re watching between Hackman’s grimness, Reynolds’ breezy smirking and Minnelli’s shrieky caricature.  The first half is the better part of the movie, the conflicts they triumph over on their gorgeously shot maiden voyage a marvelous treat, but in the second half, Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz’s screenplay keeps steady while everyone else falls apart.

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