A Lady Takes a Chance
William A. Seiter's A Lady Takes A Chance (1943) is a lesser known John Wayne movie, a lighthearted romantic comedy rather than an action film or western. This was deliberate escapist entertainment, unlike Wayne's other modern dress films of the early 1940's, which were mostly war (or war-related) movies -- a way for viewers to forget the fighting for a little while. The action is identified in the opening as taking place in 1938. The movie has its virtues as a romantic comedy, but this disc leave a lot to be desired -- it's part of the Republic Pictures and Artisan Entertainment libraries, but was produced independently and originally distributed by RKO, and whatever source has been handed down to its current owners is off by at least two generations from a proper fine-grain print. The focus is soft and the contrasts rather pale throughout, and there are visible rips and splices in the image, and the sound is nothing to brag about either. This transfer would not have passed muster on VHS in the mid-1980's, and on a DVD it's downright unforgivable; there are public domain titles, from distributors who have no official connection to the movies that they're releasing, that look significantly better than this release. The producers have tried to do right by the picture in the areas that they can control, programming in 20 chapters for the 86 minute picture, but that can't make up for the deficiencies in their source -- indeed, this could be the worst looking authorized DVD release that this reviewer has ever seen, going back to 1997. There are no extras to speak of, and the image and sound are so weak that it's impossible to enjoy the attributes that we should be enjoying which, in addition to the central romantic comedy, include good stuntwork, some colorful supporting performances, and comic relief by Phil Silvers. All of these elements are muted and washed out along with the rest of the picture.