20 May 2013 | odinthor-2
Denny is Splendid in this Amusing Show
Every day can't be Christmas, every at-bat can't be a home run, every movie can't be expected to be an immortal classic. *Vagabond Lady* is solidly amusing fare rather of the screwball comedy mold, making fresh use of familiar Hollywood tropes to send us out of the theater smiling. The secondary and bit parts are handled pitch-perfectly by often-familiar professionals of the era who clearly knew the genre and the tone required for it, and threw themselves into it with pleasure and zest. Reginald Denny came from a family in which both his father and grandmother were Gilbert & Sullivan originals; he seems to have soaked up the family's experience, and his performances frequently show the characteristic deft Gilbertian handling of what might be termed restrained absurdity. His talent for this is well displayed in *Vagabond Lady*; his expressions of profound aversion to gumdrops still coax laughs from me as they linger in the memory. Robert Young, though he throws himself fully into his role and does well enough, just doesn't have the right vibes or charisma for it. Evelyn Venable as the leading lady similarly does well enough or even better than well enough, and is radiantly beautiful; but her performance is not well modulated. The production values are on the high side (be ready for rear projections now and then), the script is fine, the show moves right along--you will spend a little over an hour being amused by an unpretentious and workmanlike mid-30s comedy, time spent pleasantly with a few out-loud laughs. Come to it as you'd come to a standard TV situation comedy in one of its better outings, and, afterwards, you'll feel that, in investing time in it, you've done well.