What a treasure and what a pleasant surprise Thank Your Lucky Stars, the new Blu-ray disc from Warner Archive, turns out to be. The HD restoration of the film alone is enough to recommend this purchase—remastering like this shows all of us what black and white films really looked like back in the day—but Warner Brothers has added a few thoughtful bonus features that make this package so much more.
The “Plot” In Brief: The film features not so much a plot, but rather a clothesline to hang assorted musical numbers. “Farnsworth” (Edward Everett Horton) and “Dr. Schlenna” (S.Z. Sakall) are two producers putting together a big charity show to benefit the U.S. military. In their quest to add singer Dinah Shore to the lineup, they must also deal with the likes of Eddie Cantor, John Garfield, Dennis Morgan, Joan Leslie, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart, all playing themselves!
Rundown of numbers:
• “Thank Your Lucky Stars,” Dinah Shore
• “Ridin’ For a Fall,” Dennis Morgan and Joan Leslie
• “Hotcha Cornia,” Spike Jones and His City Slickers
• “We’re Staying Home Tonight,” Eddie Cantor
• “Goin’ North,” a vaudeville-style number with Jack Carson and Alan Hale
• “Love Isn’t Born, It’s Made,” Ann Sheridan
• “No You, No Me,” Dennis Morgan and Joan Leslie
• “The Dreamer,” Dinah Shore
• “Ice Cold Katy,” Hattie McDaniel and Willie Best
• “How Sweet You Are,” Dinah Shore
• “That’s What You Jolly Well Get,” Errol Flynn
• “They’re Either Too Young, Or Too Old,” Bette Davis
• “The Dreamer” comic reprise, Olivia de Havilland, George Tobias, & Ida Lupino
• “Good Night, Good Neighbor,” Dennis Morgan, dance by Alexis Smith
• “Final Medley,” entire cast
I learned that Hattie McDaniel could sing while recently watching and writing about the 1937 Showboat, and here she is featured in “Ice Cold Katy,” a big production number urging America’s women to marry soldiers before they went off to war. Patriotism!
The bonus features impressed me because, by adding a Bugs Bunny cartoon (in HD!), a wartime short subject, a newsreel, and a trailer, Warner Brothers is recreating a typical night at the movies circa 1943. How I long for the day when these extras were a regular pleasure of the movie-going experience. Today, we all still feel that surge of delight whenever a Disney or Pixar film is preceeded by an animated short. I often ask my students if they know where those beloved Looney Tunes cartoons or Three Stooges shorts were originally shown—before the main feature, of course.
Thanks, Greatest Generation, for saving us all from the Nazi horde.