Monday, September 24, 2012

Lady for a Day (1933)

Lady for a Day Poster 

There are some movies that you wouldn't go out of your way to recommend to a non-classic movie lover, but this is not one of them.  "Lady for a Day" stands the test of time: it's still just as funny and touching and fun to watch, almost 80 years after its release.  The fact that it is leagues ahead of the remake, "Pocketful of Miracles," doesn't hurt its case a bit.  I realize there are some of you out there who would rather read the dictionary than watch a black and white film.  If you're ever faced with the choice of watching this version of Damon Runyan's classic tale, or the very colorful version starring Glenn Ford and Bette Davis, I hope you'll listen to me and choose the 1933 offering.  I'd hate to have to say I told you so...

Set aside my strange affinity for Warren William, just for a moment, because while he gets top billing, this is hardly "his" movie.  That honor goes to May Robson, who is such an amazing Apple Annie that you really believe she goes from alcoholic apple seller to society dame.  Her Oscar nomination for the role was well-deserved.  The characters that surround her and help her fulfill her dream of fulfilling the dreams of her daughter add color and comedy to what could be just another maudlin tale of bad parenting gone right.  

Need I even mention that it was directed by Frank Capra?  I don't usually think of this as a Capra film, though, because it's the Damon Runyon story that stands out.  I love a movie with characters like "Happy" and "Missouri Martin" and "Shakespeare." It might be far removed from reality maybe, yet nothing is more real than the love a mother has for her daughter, and the power of community, no matter how rag-tag and offbeat.

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