Annabel Allison (Lucille Ball) is an actress whose popularity is waning with the rise of another star, Natalie Preston (Frances Mercer). Natalie is engaged to royalty and has won the affection of the public with her elegance and exciting, romantic life.
Annabel’s scheming publicist, Lanny (Jack Oakie), sees that it’s going to take a lot of effort to get Annabel back on top of the Hollywood pyramid. He sends her off on a tour to promote her newest film and stages several publicity stunts to keep her name in the papers.
Annabel Takes a Tour was directed by Lew Landers. Released by RKO, it was written for the screen by Bert Granet and Olive Cooper.
Taking the viewer behind-the-scenes of the movie business, Annabel Takes a Tour is not about the production of a film but about the press machine that surrounds the movie industry and its stars. The film stresses the fact that stars were really treated as representatives for their studios. Annabel’s boss is concerned not only about the public’s perception of her, but how her popularity impacts the studio as a whole.
Publicity complicates both Annabel’s work life and her personal life as her publicist strives to keep her name in the papers, while she finds herself falling for a well-known man who prefers to keep his private life private. She respects her new beau’s wishes… but Lanny doesn’t!
And speaking of Lanny, what a little mess of a publicist he is. He’s known for keeping the names of his clients in the papers, but as Annabel comes to learn, it’s usually for all of the wrong reasons.
Promising Annabel that he’ll have the columnists singing her praises as she travels the country, he instead hires a woman to pretend to be a president of an Annabel fan club, nearly derailing the tour at the start when the woman does her job too well. Then, at Annabel’s first tour appearance, he uses the wrong backstage controls and sends her falling through a trap door on the stage as she greets the audience.
Remember when the Sony leak happened and we all had a good laugh over how distinctly unprofessional and non-expert the head honchos of today’s move business sounded in their emails? Annabel Takes a Tour will leave you convinced that this has been a decades-long Hollywood trend: giving power to people who have no clue how to do their jobs properly, or with any sense of professionalism.
While this may all make the life of a star sound pretty grim, the film handles all of its wacky scenarios and mishaps with humor. It’s full of dialogue that satirizes obsession with money and fame, showing that neither is all it’s cracked up to be, while also bringing quite a bit of amusement to the viewer.