Lucky Lady Stanley Donen

Lucky Lady Stanley Donen
With Shout! Factory canvassing cinema vaults for the most random and contextually obscure movies from the '70s and '80s to release on DVD, cineastes, film geeks and folks looking for a dose of nostalgia can have their fill with notorious duds like Lucky Lady. Reportedly tweaked, rewritten and partially re-shot, having three different endings (only one of which is included with this DVD), this '70s throwback to early screwball comedies has only been available via very rare late night television viewings since it was released with limited acknowledgement back in 1975. Now on DVD, it's a strange artefact to behold, featuring Gene Hackman, Burt Reynolds and Liza Minnelli as a trio of rumrunners during '30s prohibition who eventually become a functioning ménage-a-trois. Perhaps it's knowing that now Reynolds and Minnelli are grotesque caricatures of celebrity gone awry, or it might even be the vague implication of bisexuality on the part of the very gruff Gene Hackman, but there's something very flabbergasting and prodigious about witnessing these three bathing and bedding together. Beyond this, Stanley Donen's comedy of mismatched archetypes is far more entertaining than it should be, featuring haywire action sequences and battles between the trio and the U.S. Coastguard involving excess gunfire, explosions, clever deception and the occasional Molotov cocktail. The film works in these sequences, with Minnelli stumbling, and getting frustrated with, secondary duties, while Reynolds proves incompetent and Hackman saves the day. It's just unfortunate that the story goes absolutely nowhere and drags on for an additional half-hour after the primary journey has concluded. There are also some severe issues with tone, since Donen goes for light-hearted fun, which is then obliterated by the killing of sympathetic leading characters. Of course, some of this has to do with the aforementioned re-shoots, since the original ending actually left both leading men dead, which makes sense, given the thematic trajectory of Minnelli's greed being their collective downfall. But the final product muddies this up with an overall lack of completion and inconsistency in all things vital to a successful narrative. Included with the DVD are a trailer and some vintage television vignettes, which show mainly how far marketing has come. (Shout! Factory)