Review: Best Foot Forward (1943)

Lucille Ball’s hair was made for Technicolor. It’s an amazing red color not found in nature and in Best Foot Forward she wears it in a huge fortress style favored in the ’40s that easily adds another ten inches to her already impressive height. (Check it out there on the box cover. Impressive, no?) With her pale skin and bright red lipstick, she’s stunning. There’s a scene with Lucy wearing a vibrant ensemble, complete with a hat that looks like layers of bright blue-green phyllo dough balanced atop her rock solid flaming hairdo. It’s almost painful to look at.

The movie itself is a silly song-and-dance piece of wartime escapism. Ball portrays herself, a Hollywood bathing beauty looking for some much-needed publicity to boost her stalled movie career. In this simpler time, accompanying an underage military school cadet to his prom seems like a brilliant PR move.

The cadet chosen to be Lucy’s date has a jealous girlfriend (Virginia Weidler) of course, Harry James and his orchestra belt out the dance tunes (including an odd prom-stopping rendition of “The Flight of the Bumblebee,”) and the dance ends with a mob of girls so angry with their dates for ditching them in favor of the middle-aged movie star that they attack Lucy and rip her dress off! Yeah, it was a simpler time.

June Allyson makes her first film appearance and she’s cute as a bug in a rug. Also featured are Gloria De Haven and a wise-cracking Nancy Walker (Rhoda’s mom was young once too!) who practically steals the movie. They all sing and dance their hearts out while Lucy does a beautiful job lip-syncing a ballad in all her Technicolor splendor. Good mindless fun. [**1/2 out of 5]

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