Four Jacks and Jill (1942)

Karinina “Nina” Novak (Anne Shirley) is nearly hit by a car one day, but she’s saved by band leader Nifty Sullivan (Ray Bolger).

She’s not thankful to the man, for when he saved her, she lost hold of her ticket for the concert she was headed to that night. Her luck hasn’t totally run out, though. Nifty has two balcony tickets, and offers one to Nina.

After the concert, they part ways, and Nifty heads to Mike’s Cellar to perform with his band, “Four Jacks and a Queen.” Soon the band finds itself in need of a new singer, after Opal (June Havoc) decides to retire from the stage.

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(Image via TMDb)

Now it’s Nina’s turn to bring Mike some luck. She’s as good of a liar as she is a singer, and crafting an elaborate backstory about singing for the King of Aregal (Desi Arnaz), she joins the newly-renamed band “Four Jacks and Jill” and tries to bring them big-time success.

Four Jacks and a Jill was directed by Jack Hively. The screenplay was written by John Twist from a story by Monte Brice. This film marked the credited debut of June Havoc.

Love triangles, mistaken identities, musical career struggles… there’s a lot going on here! Though there are many different elements to the plot, unfortunately they aren’t all well-developed, leaving the film feeling somewhat thin despite all of those different threads. The script could make better use of all of these scenarios. The mistaken identities and love triangles play out in quite the expected fashion.

Still, Four Jacks and a Jill is a pretty fun watch. Not all of the humor lands, but there are a few funny moments. It’s strongest in its song-and-dance numbers, where the music is bright and lively.

Anne Shirley is lovely and brings the most laughs in her role of “Nina,” a down-on-her-luck woman who keeps a positive attitude and charms her way into the hearts of the four Jacks. She brings some much-needed heart to the film.

By no means one of the greats Four Jacks and a Jill is an okay time-passer for fans of musical comedy.

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