Best Foot Forward (1943), starring Lucille Ball, Harry James
Best Foot Forward is 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.
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, which comes to a head at the prom. This results in Lucille Ball’s gown being torn to shreds by souvenir hunters, which leads to the funniest part of the movie, with Lucy, the cadet, his girlfriend, his buddies, and their girlfriends hiding in the cadet’s closet in 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.
Editorial Reviews of Best Foot Forward starring Lucille Ball, courtesy of Amazon.com
There’s an endless supply of energy in this sweet-natured musical comedy, which finds a glamorous Lucille Ball playing herself against an unlikely backdrop: a military academy full of frisky boys. Ball is the reluctant guest of a diminutive cadet, Bud Hooper (Tommy Dix), who wrote her a mash note and invitation to be his date at a school prom. Ball’s publicity man (William 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 (Virginia Weidler), and ask Ball to pretend to be her 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’d like to, say, take the famous redhead for a walk in the moonlight. Meanwhile, Harry James and his orchestra let loose with The Flight of the Bumblebee,â and the cast hoof and sing their way through such fun numbers as Three Men on a Date,â Alive and Kickin’, and What Do You Think I Am? Some famous or soon-to-be-famous folks wander through the tuneful craziness, including Nancy Walker, June Allyson, Chill Wills, Gloria DeHaven, and future director Stanley Donen. —Tom Keogh
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.