Review: Sidney Lanfield’s “The Lady Has Plans,” Starring Paulette Goddard and Ray Milland

Paulette Goddard in
Paulette Goddard in "The Lady Has Plans"

Built on a completely absurd, half-baked idea, Sidney Lanfield’s Paramount comedy The Lady Has Plans spends more time objectifying star Paulette Goddard than actually producing laughs.

The extremely literal title refers to an agent whose back has been tattooed with stolen American naval plans, which she plans to sell to the highest bidder. Landing in England, reporter Sidney Royce (Goddard) is mistaken for the spy, and endures all kinds of gross violations when Germans (Albert Dekker) and Brits (Roland Young) attempt to get the plans she doesn’t have. Even her new boss, Kenneth Harper (Ray Milland), gets caught up in trying to drug her, beat her, and bed her just to see these inked blueprints—that is, after he gets over the idea that he could ever be forced to work with a female reporter. Top that all off with a seemingly mandatory forced romance between the two, and the already unfunny film takes an even uglier turn.

Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard in "The Lady Has Plans"
Ray Milland and Paulette Goddard in “The Lady Has Plans”

Roland Young is sometimes amusing in the role of the bumbling British agent, but he’s the picture’s sole highlight. Goddard’s character is oblivious to the situation for most of the seventy-seven-minute runtime, and Ray Milland’s character commits such offensive acts that neither are fun to watch, and certainly not together. The Lady Has Plans needed the wit of another Paramount comedy writer like Preston Sturges to pull off its inane premise—and screenwriter Harry Tugend doesn’t come remotely close to even Sturges’ worst film.

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For More on The Lady Has Plans

Read the review in The New York Times