RKO was already discussing “Kitty Foyle” with Ginger Rogers when she began working on “Lucky Partners” with Ronald Coleman.
“Lucky Partners” is one of those frustrating movies that starts with 10 minutes of charm and promise but gets caught up in a farfetched plot point that seems even more unbelievable as the story progresses. The appeal of its leading players cannot help the story as it builds toward a copy-cat finale.
Rogers plays Jean, a woman who works for her aunt’s bookstore. While delivering some books, she passes on the sidewalk a stranger, David (Coleman), who wishes her good luck. She is startled by this, and as the two continue walking in opposite directions, they turn to check each other out. Surprisingly enough, Jean does encounter good luck during her delivery, and as she tells her aunt (Spring Byington), Jean notices David across the street and has a brainstorm. Based upon her luck, she proposes a partnership with David in which they split the cost of a sweepstakes ticket, with the winnings also split between them. Jean explains the money would help her and her fiancé Freddie (Jack Carson) so they can get married and start their lives together.
David agrees but only if he can spend his winnings taking her on a platonic “honeymoon” before she gets married as an “experiment.” Aghast, Jean runs to get Freddie, who eventually agrees with David, thinking he will never win.
This very strange plot twist doesn’t work, because we know nothing about David. He is a mystery man, and the story hints he’s running away from something. But this is one of those films that mistakes the star for the character. Because Ronald Coleman is playing David, he must be OK and therefore it makes sense Jean would agree to such nonsense. Frankly, though, it’s just mortifying that Jean would run off with this unknown man on an experimental honeymoon (which, frankly, I’m still not sure of the reason behind the so-called experiment). So much time and talk is made of this strange arrangement that no real conversations exist between David and Jean, which makes the romance that begins to blossom even more unbelievable.
The ending is a courtroom scene, just like “You Can’t Take It With You,” complete with Harry Davenport as the judge. And I still don’t get all the commotion around David’s disappearance. It’s a shame, too, after such a promising beginning. And it wastes the talents of all involved – Coleman, playing an underwritten part; the always likable Carson, who isn’t stretched here; and Rogers, who is so appealing (and an even darker brunette than in “Primose Path”). But even she looks a little lost at the end.
Rogers admitted to a secret crush on Coleman and was delighted to work with him. The two got along well, and she said everyone enjoyed working on the film. It’s too bad the result just doesn’t work.