Luck be a Lady Called Ginger
Think of a modern romantic comedy, there is a very good chance that it works on the routine of boy meets girl, they fall for each other, but he loses her and has to try and win her back. That routine isn't new, take "Lucky Partners" from 1940, it runs to that exact same formula as we watch Ronald Colman charm Ginger Rogers only to lose her and have to try and win her back. But the thing about "Lucky Partners" is that it oozes charm from the initial meet cute through to the way that Colman and Rogers eventually kiss. Plus it is all good fun especially when it comes to Colman trying to win Rogers back with a wonderful element of farce as things end up in the courtroom.
As David Grant (Ronald Colman) walks down the street he wishes a stranger, Jean Newton (Ginger Rogers - Monkey Business), good luck and that is certainly what she gets when she is given an expensive dress by someone else. Believing that her luck came from that chance encounter Jean tracks David down and persuades him to go in halves with her on a sweepstake ticket. But David wants something in return and despite discovering that Jean is engaged to Insurance engineer Freddy (Jack Carson) wishes that they go on a 'Honeymoon' trip in return. Reluctantly Jean agrees having spoken to Freddy about it but things become confusing when not only does Freddy sell Jean's half of the ticket but also having gone on the 'Honeymoon' trip with David she starts to have feelings for the eccentric charmer.
So as already mentioned "Lucky Partners" runs to the simple formula of boy meets girl or in this case man meets woman and things don't go smoothly but in fact it's not so clear cut as that. After a wonderful meet cute where David wishes Jean good luck as he passes her on the street you have this layer of almost ambiguity. The ambiguity comes in two forms firstly who David really is because we quickly learn that whilst he runs a caricature business it seems that he may have had another life that he has run away from. And secondly that ambiguity is over his feelings towards Jean because not once does it come across as that he directly fancies her but is willing to playfully go along with her idea of going in with her on a sweepstake ticket as long as he will go on a 'honeymoon' trip with him. It means that whilst you know that they will end up falling for each other you are never 100% sure if that was what David was after or just wanted the pleasure of female company for a while.
Whilst there is this ambiguity "Lucky Partners" soon settles into the routine and after some amusement which comes from Jean's actual fiancé not liking her going off with him we have them heading off to Niagara falls for their 'honeymoon' trip. Now there is plenty of comical confusion going on through out as they have separate rooms but they keep on switching and you also have Jean being wary to what David's intentions really are. But whilst really quite obvious it is full of charm especially how David basically charms Jean despite the fact that he comes across as not wanting to find love.
All of which follows that boy meets girl formula so that they finally kiss in what is a surprisingly tender and romantic moment before it all goes wrong. But whilst obvious it is again so much fun with who David really is leading to the confusing mess of all the room changes, Freddy, Jeans suspicious fiancé and a run in with the law where all of this confusion is then played out in court with a judge trying to make sense of how David and Jean happen to be together when she is engaged to someone else and in possession of a rare picture. It's so obvious but so much fun as the courtroom scenes turn into a farce with both Jean and David representing themselves with a brilliant scene where David cross examines himself jumping in and out of the witness chair.
A huge reason why this comes off so well is that in Ronald Colman and Ginger Rogers it has two brilliantly funny actors. Colman's delivery of David as this smooth charmer who seems easy going and a little eccentric is just wonderful and the minute we meet him, whistling a tune as he walks part Jean, we immediately like him. And we immediately like Ginger Rogers as Jean because she is not only attractive but because she is taken by the curious David. There maybe other fine performances going on from Jack Carson as Jean's fiance Freddy through to Spring Byington as Aunt Lucy but it is the chemistry and comic timing between Colman and Rogers which brings "Lucky Partners" to life.
What this all boils down to is that "Lucky Partners" does use the same formula that so many other romantic comedies deploy but it feels so much more because it is a charming tale with a wonderful sense of ambiguity. It also helps that Ronald Colman and Ginger Rogers not only works well together but deliver interesting and appealing characters. In a way "Lucky Partners" is what so many modern romantic comedies could be if they focused more on the characters rather than the comedy.