Second Time Lucky (1984)
Director Michael Anderson’s career had come a long way since he was nominated for a Best Director Oscar for 1956’s Around the World in Eighty Days; unfortunately, it was mostly in the wrong direction. The ’70s hadn’t been kind to him. Logan’s Run had been a hit, but it had been preceded and followed by the famous flops Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze and Orca.
By the ’80s, he was reduced to working on Canadian tax shelter movies (1982’s Murder by Phone and 1986’s Separate Vacations) and the Australian sex comedy Second Time Lucky, which was produced by Roger Corman’s closest non-union Down Under equivalent, Tony Ginnane.
Originally planned as a full-length comedic look at the story of Adam and Eve, Second Time Lucky eventually morphed into an epoch-crossing episodic film detailing the battle of good and evil waged between God and the Devil as fought through one of the dudes from Porky’s and the woman you instantly will recognize as the French foreign exchange student John Cusack ended up with in Better Off Dead.
Ultimately, it is this young woman (Diane Franklin) who ends up giving the movie its only reason to exist. Indifferently directed by Anderson on an Australian sex-comedy budget, Second Time Lucky is less a cohesive narrative than a good excuse to see a very attractive lady-person in some state of undress every 10 minutes.
Such is the devotion and precision with which it unclothes Franklin that it borders on being the cinematic equivalent of an obsessive-compulsive disorder. And as a strategy to get 98 minutes to fly by, it’s not a bad plan. Franklin is almost pathologically adorable and does the naked thing very well. Enough so that it’s easy to forgive how utterly terrible everything else is around her.
And — make no mistake — everything around her is pretty goddamn terrible. British character actor Robert Morley clearly filmed his entire role as God in one day without ever leaving his chair, and although famed Aussie dancer Robert Helpmann once portrayed one of moviedom’s scariest villains as the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, he fails to do much besides camp it up in all the wrong ways as Satan.
As an excuse to see Franklin naked a lot and to witness the heights from which mighty directors can fall, Second Time Lucky is probably worth a view. I know I’ve personally watched worse movie for worse reasons, but those who hold themselves to much higher standards can be forgiven for giving it a miss. —Allan Mott