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Best Foot Forward

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Best Foot Forward (1943), starring Lucille Ball, Harry James
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Best Foot Forward (1943), starring Lucille Ball, Harry James

A fun musical, that frequently had me asking, “When is Lucy coming back on screen?” Please understand, that even without Lucy on screen, it’s a fun musical farce.  There are several nice musical numbers and some Wonderful music by the Harry James band.  I was absolutely transfixed by their rendition of Flight of the Bumblebees.  But there’s a definite decrease in the comedy, and in the pace of the film, when Lucille Ball is off-screen. With a few notable examples.

Buy from Amazon The basic premise of the film is that Lucille Ball is invited by a military cadet to attend their prom.  Lucille’s publicity manager is in favor of it, hoping to get some positive publicity and jump-starting Lucy’s stalled career.  This is complicated by the fact that the cadet hasn’t informed his girlfriend  about this.  Much of the first half of the movie deals with the boyfriend-girlfriend misunderstanding. It comes to a head at the prom.  

Lucille Ball flanked by military officers in "Best Foot Forward"

This results in Lucille Ball’s gown being torn to shreds by souvenir hunters. In turn, this leads to the funniest part of the movie.Lucy, the cadet, his girlfriend, his buddies, and their girlfriends hiding in the cadet’s closet. It’s a madcap scene reminiscent of the Marx Brothers.  The end of the film deals with Lucy getting the cadet out of trouble so that he can graduate and follow in his father’s footsteps to West Point.

A very nice musical, which I rate 3 out of 5 stars.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
Best Foot Forward movie poster

Product Description of Best Foot Forward, starring Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball stars as an entertaining movie star who visits her small-town school on a lark. Musical numbers include Buckle Down Winsockie and Two O’Clock Jump.  Nancy Walker and June Allyson make their feature film debut recreating their stage roles!

Trivia for Best Foot Forward (1943)

  • The play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 1 October 1941 and had 326 performances. The opening night cast included Nancy Walker, who originated her movie role in the play.  June Allyson, Kenny Bowers, Tommy Dix, Jack Jordan and Stanley Donen, all of whom appear in this film but with different roles; and Rosemary Lane. Gil Stratton was brought out to Hollywood at the same time but appeared in Girl Crazy (1943) instead. Although some say he had a small role in this film. A 1963 off-Broadway revival starred Liza Minnelli.
  • MGM bought the rights to the musical for $150,000.

Cast of characters

Song Lyrics

  • Buckle Down, Winsocki (1941)
    • Music and Lyrics by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane
    • Performed by the MGM Studio Orchestra and chorus during the opening credits
    • Reprised at the prom
    • Reprised at the graduation in the finale, and performed by Tommy Dix and chorus
  • Wish I May (1941)
    • Music and Lyrics by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane
    • Performed by June Allyson, Kenny Bowers, Gloria DeHaven, Jack Jordan (dubbed by Ralph Blane), Sara Haden and Donald MacBride
  • Three Men on a Date (1941)
    • Music and Lyrics by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin
    • Performed by Tommy Dix, Jack Jordan (dubbed by Ralph Blane) and Kenny Bowers
  • Ev’ry Time (1941)
    • Written by Harry James
    • Variation of “One O’Clock Jump” (1933)
    • Written by Count Basie
    • Performed by Harry James and His Orchestra
  • I Know You by Heart (1941)
    • Music by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
    • Arranged by Jack Matthias
    • Performed by Harry James and His Orchestra at the prom
  • My First Promise {The Ring Waltz} (1943)
    • Music and Lyrics by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane
    • Performed by Beverly Tyler and chorus
    • With Harry James and His Orchestra
  • Alive and Kickin’ (1941)
    • Music and Lyrics by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane
    • Performed by Nancy Walker and Harry James and His Orchestra
    • Arranged and orchestrated by Conrad Salinger
  • You’re Lucky (1941)
    • Music and Lyrics by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane
    • Sung by Lucille Ball (dubbed by Gloria Grafton)

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