Once again, two big box office leading men are paired up, Gene Hackman and Burt Reynolds, but this time they are partnered with an A-list leading lady, Liza Minnelli. Whereas “The Sting” takes place during the Depression Era, “Lucky Lady” takes place just a few years earlier during prohibition.
The film has a lot going for it…three big stars, director Stanley Donen (“Singin’ in the Rain”), big production values…but it just doesn’t work. The only one of the three leads who pulls their roll off is Minnelli. Strangely, Minnelli has never been a star who appealed to me that much. I guess her tabloid persona always overshadowed the rest for me, but she does a good job here. It’s not a perfect performance, but it fits the role.
Burt Reynolds, on the other hand, is in full “Smokey and the Bandit” mode four years before that movie even came out. I half expected to see Dom Deluise show up. And then there’s Hackman who obviously does not want to be in this movie. Various websites seem to suggest that Hackman turned down this role several times until he was offered an obscene amount of money he couldn’t refuse.
The whole thing is just uneven. At times it seems to be going for that Sting-like feel, at other moments it tries to be a slapstick comedy. By the time we reach the climax of the film, there is some pretty bloody violence and a huge boat battle full of explosions that would make the A-Team proud. I suppose this would be a good place to point out that “Lucky Lady” was penned by the team of Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz, the husband and wife team responsible for “Howard the Duck.”
Honestly, there’s not a whole lot that’s memorable about this movie. I mean, I’m really struggling here. I remember Hackman mumbling his way through, I remember Reynolds smirking at the camera, I remember Minelli’s big Powerpuff Girl looking eyes. A bunch of things went boom at the end of the movie, but otherwise, there’s nothing that makes this movie stand out. It’s a an overblown 70’s mess of a movie.