STRIKE ME LUCKY
Australia, 1934, 87 minutes, Black and white.
Roy Rene, Yvonne Banvard.
Directed by Ken G. Hall.
Strike Me Lucky is the only feature film made by vaudeville and radio comedian Roy Rene, Mo. It was not a cinema success. Roy Rene himself was disappointed, thinking that much of his best material finished up on the cutting-room floor. but also acknowledging the need he had for a live audience to respond well. Many of the sequences are quite funny. However, for an audience not familiar with his entertainment style, it seems particularly mannered and eccentric. His contemporary audiences would have made some allowance for this. Rene was a comedian of stage presence and timing as well as an excellent comedian with his voice. Hence, his continued success on radio.
The film is a Cinesound production directed by Ken G. Hall with screenplay by Victor Roberts, one of Rene's comic writers, and photographed by Cinesound's two experts Frank Hurley and George Heath. There are some pleasant but forgettable songs. The supporting cast includes many regulars from Cinesound productions of the '30s.
There is too much plot. There is the focus on Mo, his Jewish style, his being out of work and gaining employment. There is plot about a rich little girl who is feared to be kidnapped with consequent difficulties of a kidnap plot. Then there is plot about two halves of a map for a gold reef, a send-up of Lasseter's lost reef. Finally there is an expedition to the reef and even a group of 'cannibals' somewhere out in the middle of Australia - looking in no way like aborigines but more like Hollywood head-hunters. The film then gets out of hand despite many of its successful moments.
It is an interesting curiosity and an opportunity to see a famous comedian of his time.
1. Audience interest in the film? The work of Ken G. Hall and Cinesound? A vehicle for Roy Rene and his character, Mo?
2. The film's lack of success Mo as a stage and radio actor, his particular styles of humour crass, vulgar, wheedling and whining style, his jibes at institutions?
3. The Roy Rene style of humour and the support of his comic writing team? The range of jokes, verbal and visual? The parodies of contemporary films? Too much plot? The black and white photography and sets and locations? The insertion of a Busby Berkley style musical sequence?
4. The world of Sydney, artificial and real? Rich and poor? Mo's world and poverty, inner city life, unemployment, conmen? The background of inner city gangster life? The contrast with high society, wealth, beautiful homes, planes? The second half of the film with the aerial sequences and comedy, prospecting, the lost reef, the encounter with the cannibals? The draining of credibility?
5. Mo as a successful radio personality: his age, the light blue jokes, the spluttering, the little man, the man who could give others their comeuppance, the Jewish innuendo, Jewish explicit jokes? Quick repartee? Corny puns and jokes? A comedian to listen to? Timing? The effect of seeing Mo in close-up? Mo doing his stage routines, songs and dances rather than giving a screen performance?
6. Mo and the story: the ordinary man in the inner city, the conman (and the note in the coat pocket)? Taking the cab, the cab-driver, the clothes merchant, the job and Mo's selling clothes? The encounter with Miriam and her dancing? Kate and the various crooks? The maps? The friendship with the Burnetts? Mo as a causer of confusion? The planes and the stunt work, Mo and the plane, desert, the encounter with the cannibals? His voice, manner, offbeat criticism? The impact of his screen persona?
7. The coincidences and ludicrous aspects of the plot? The plot overload and its effect?
8. Mo, Donald and Mrs. Huckleberry? Inner city life, simplicity. jokes? Landladies, friends? The clothes shop? Donald and his help? The melodrama with the criminals? The mishaps? Donald and the expedition? Mrs. Huckleberry looking after Miriam?
9. John and Margot as romantic leads? Stereotypes for films of the '30s? The encounter with the book on Romeo and Juliet? The chase, the airport, the house, the map, the expedition? Happy ending?
10. Miriam and her father, his complaints about poverty, her deciding to go out and dance in the street to raise money for him, the set-ups for her return, Mo breaking through the plans, Kate and her double-timing?
11. Kate and the Mae West film (the poster with the title 'She Done Him Dirt' rather than 'She Done Him Wrong')? Kate becoming blonde, Mae West's clothes and style? Her crooked friends? The double deals? Going to the Burnetts'? The mix-up about Miriam? The map, going with John on the plane? Ending on the right side?
12. The film's use of the old legends of Lasseter's reef? Misconceptions about aborigines? Parody?
13. A '30s variation of the Australian little man? Parody of Australian society? Spoof on Australian entertainment?