- Directed by William A. Seiter
- September 14, 1943
A New York girl travels to the American West on a bus tour where she meets and falls in love with a rugged cowboy.
John Wayne’s romantic comedies followed a fairly standard formula. Manly man meets a womanly woman and doesn’t wanna be attracted to her yet he is. The womanly woman meets the manly man and doesn’t want to be attracted to him yet is much more quickly won over by his manliness than the man is one over by her womanliness.
Honestly the plot of A Lady Takes a Chance is not all that different from your average romantic comedy that you find on Hallmark or Lifetime in the present. It is a tried-and-true formula that’s been around for nearly a century. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It makes comfort food that there really is no shock to how things go and how they turn out. Sometimes we need comfort food to ease our minds.
Wayne is charming and affable as the rather dedicated bachelor Duke Hudkins who wants to play the field rather than find a nice girl to settle down with. And that in large part is what extends the movie as it does in all such films.
Jean Arthur is big city girl Molly J. Truesdale who goes on a trip and unexpectedly falls in love with the rugged and manly Duke. If Duke was a handyman in a sleepy Colorado town then this most certainly would be from Lifetime or Hallmark. The Molly character is the romcom female character template. Busy with work and unable to find true romance.
I can’t think of any standard John Wayne costars that show up here. There was a core group of players John Wayne made a lot of movies with and their absence to me at this point is noticeable. It could be that this was still very early in his career and he was a rising star rather than a celebrity powerhouse that could call the shots.
The cast of characters and actors is not bad. We have the fatherly sidekick character called Waco (Charles Winninger) that Duke looks up to. Phil Silvers gets billing because of his part as bus tour director Smiley Lambert though his character merely bookends the movie. You may not know the name now, but Silvers was a big deal back in the day.
As romantic comedies go this is nothing too special but it’s not terrible. The two leads help you get through this as they have chemistry. Wayne and Arthur play well off of each other. There are enough humorous situations that generate some genuine laughs.
A Lady Takes a Chance is nothing special but it’s not terrible. I don’t think you will seek this out but if you do catch it you won’t feel disappointed. For John Wayne fans take a look but for the general movie goer you can probably pass this one up.