A nice trip back to the musical 40s
Robert Badgley | London,Ontario,Canada | 09/28/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Best Foot Forward is a pleasant diversion to watch even still today.It was originally a successful Broadway play which MGM got the rights to and filmed in colour.
The movie was definitely aimed at a teenage audience to inspire them to get into the military swing of things,you might say.It concerns three young cadet sergeants and their girls.There is an up coming prom with the neighbouring girls school but one of the sergeants has written to Lucille Ball who has unexpectedly accepted his invitation to attend the prom with him.Now he has the task of trying to keep his girl from finding out AND attending the prom.To top things off Lucille Ball,due to academy rules,can only go with him under his girlfriends' name! And she's only there at her managers' insistence,to get publicity! His girlfriend eventually finds out,and boy falls out with girl,mayhem ensues but alls well that ends well.
The plot is nothing special and the script could/should have been much better.Instead alot of the lines are plain,trite and miss the mark much too often.Lucille Ball unfortunately gives her best but just isn't given enough of signifigance to say or do.
However there are two elements that save the movie.The first is Nancy Walker who does a terrific turn as a smart alecky debutante.She provides the film with the majority of its' laughs.
The second is Harry James.I have always considered him to be the greatest trumpet player of the 20th century and this movie provides more than ample proof,and all within two numbers.The first is "Two O'Clock Jump",one of his big hits and a real great jump tune.The second is "Flight of the Bumblebee".There are no adjectives that I could use to adequately describe the fingerwork and technique on this number.It was astonishing to watch in /43 and is STILL a wonder to this day.He even does a duet dance number with Nancy Walker.And all this in colour!
And speaking of colour.This print generally is very good.There are a couple of short cut scenes that appear a little out of focus but other than that it looks like it was filmed yesterday.
To recap; Best Foot Forward while "OSCAR caliber" is NOT one of its' attributes,and while it is a film very much of its' time,it is still a very plesant diversion.It is in crisp colour and Lucille Ball fans will find a nice spot for it in their library I'm sure.Also to watch out for is a young Gloria De Haven and June Allyson.Nancy Walker is the comic standout and Harry James rounds things out beautifully in the music department with his peerless horn playing.
I might also add that the soundtrack is still available,but not for long.It is made by Rhino records in a very limited addition CD.Only 2500 copies have been pressed in all so may I suggest if you like the numbers in this movie you will love the CD also."
It's enough to make me think that hell has no woman like a f
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 07/22/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Best Foot Forward is an excellent MGM movie with laughs, action and musical numbers that pack a punch! There's Harry James & His Orchestra; Lucille Ball, Nancy Walker in her film debut, June Allyson and more. The plot moves along at a very good pace and with the musical numbers you won't be bored. The cinematography is excellent and I was particularly impressed with the choreography; the scenes in which they have the senior prom are superlative. The other casting worked well, too.
When the action starts, we quickly meet young Bud Hooper (Tommy Dix) who's in a bit of trouble, to say the least. He has written a fan letter to Lucille Ball; and unbeknownst to him and the others at Winsocki Military Academy, Lucille Ball's luck in films has turned so sour that she is actually headed to Bud's senior prom to be his date--and get some publicity to win back her Hollywood fame and fortune. Trouble is, however, that Bud's girlfriend Helen Schlesinger (Virginia Weidler) is coming to be with Bud because he told her he had the flu--so that she would stay away! Lots of problems start to happen real fast when Helen arrives unexpectedly at Bud's school and she sees that Bud is perfectly fine--and going with Lucille Ball as his date to the senior prom.
If that isn't enough to get some action going, there's also the issue that Bud needs Lucille to go by his girlfriend's name Helen; before Bud knew Lucille was really coming he told his school that Helen would in fact be his date for the prom. Lucille isn't happy about this but with a little bit of prodding, partly from her agent Jack O'Riley (William Gaxton), she decides to play along and hopes that she'll get some good publicity at the prom with Bud and his two other roommates Hunk (Jack Jordan) and "Dutch" Miller (Kenny Bowers). We also meet Nancy (Nancy Walker) who plays a young girl on a blind date to help her father's potential business deal, but when Nancy sees her date "Greenie" (Bob Stebbins) she's not exactly happy, either.
The musical numbers are excellent. We get Harry James & His Orchestra playing swing music and more of the day an there's even a brief version of "Flight of the Bumble Bee." Look also for Nancy, Ethel (June Allyson) and Minerva (Gloria DeHaven) to sing a grand tune called "The Three Bs."
Of course, the plot can go anywhere from here. When Helen shows up at the prom and sees Bud dancing with Lucille, she starts a "souvenir collecting" riot that results in Lucille's dress being torn off to leave Lucille standing there in her slip! Will Helen ever be able to forgive Bud? What about the school officials including Major Reeber (Henry O'Neill) and Captain Bradd (Donald MacBride)--how will they discipline Bud or otherwise handle this situation? And will Nancy find love? No plot spoilers here, folks--watch and find out!
The DVD has an extra entitled The Knight Is Young; this is quite good. In addition, there's a cartoon entitled One Ham's Family.
Best Foot Forward is quite funny and the musical numbers along with the plot are excellent. I highly recommend this film for people who enjoy classic movie musicals; and fans of the great Lucille Ball will not be disappointed."