Molly Trousdale (Jean Arthur) is a big city girl with an awful lot going for her. She evidently had a pretty good job and three guys (Malcom, Greg and Bob) vying for her affections. But for Molly something is definitely missing. Maybe that is why she has decided to embark on a two week vacation out West. The poster at the bus station in her hometown of New York City promises "Romance and Adventure: 14 Breathless Days In the West". And all for only $137.50. Perhaps Molly thought that a change of scenery would do her some good. But Molly Trousdale would get a whole lot more than she ever bargained for on this trip. "A Lady Takes A Chance" is producer Frank Ross' (Jean Arthur's husband at the time) relatively obscure 1943 film that also stars John Wayne in a most unusual role as cowboy bachelor Duke Hutkins. This is a flick I had never even heard of until i came across it online just a few weeks ago.
One of the stops on Molly's itinerary is a Championship rodeo. She is quite taken by the sights and sounds of this event and is determined to get some great photos of her experience to share with the folks back home. As she prepares to snap her next photo her subject is abruptly thrown from his animal and lands in the stands right on top of Molly! A more unusual introduction you will never see and hilarious to boot! Duke asks if the young lady is OK then tips his hat and jumps back into the ring. But when the competition is over Molly goes out of her way to find Duke and asks him for his autograph as another momento of her trip. He is more than happy to oblige and it quickly becomes apparent that Duke is quite smitten by the charming young lady from back East. He had never met anyone quite like her. Furthermore, it also becomes clear that the feeling is mutual when Duke asks Molly out for a drink and she confides "nothing like this was included in my all expenses paid package." But Molly will quickly learn that Duke could be a handful. He is a confirmed bachelor and a man used to having his own way with the ladies. Molly was having none of it. Furthermore, Duke lies about the time and causes Molly to miss her tour bus. It would appear that the two of them would have nothing more to discuss..
But the simple fact of the matter was that Molly was a single girl in a strange town. She had very few options open to her. If she was lucky she could catch up with her bus for the return trip to New York in about a week. Molly does her best to avoid Duke but it seems that destiny has other ideas. She winds up hitching a ride with Duke and his trusty old sidekick Waco (Charles Winninger). They are headed for a town called Gold City when they are forced to bed down for the night in the middle of the desert. This would be an entirely new experience for the clueless city girl and when she got cold Molly steals the blanket off the back of Duke's beloved horse Sammy. When the sun rose the next morning it was clear that Sammy was very sick and if pneumonia had set in he would have to be put down. It would be touch and go all day long at the vets but the incident had a profound effect on Molly. She tells Waco "He is the most unusual fella I have ever met. He certainly is the right fella for the right girl. Any fella who can love a horse can love a girl." Now Molly puts on a full court press to win her man. She invites him to her cabin and cooks him a great dinner. Everything is perfect and I was certain she was going to seal the deal. But unfortunately this evening will not end the way Molly had hoped. Still one gets the feeling that it is only a matter of time..........
So there you have it. "A Lady Takes A Chance" is a romantic comedy with a definite western flair. There is magnificent chemistry between John Wayne and Jean Arthur that I simply never would have expected. I am a huge Jean Arthur fan and she was great but John Wayne reveals a side of him in this film that I have never seen before. I purchased this film a couple of weeks ago and have already watched it three times. It is an unexpected treat. Highly recommended!
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