Mr. Lucky (TV series)

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Mr. Lucky
Mr. Lucky TV Series.jpg
The Complete Series DVD cover
Format Drama
Adventure
Created by Blake Edwards, based on a story by Milton Holmes
Starring John Vivyan
Ross Martin
Pippa Scott
Tom Brown
Opening theme "Theme From 'Mr. Lucky'"
Composer(s) Henry Mancini
Country of origin USA
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 34
Production
Executive producer(s) Gordon Oliver
Producer(s) Jack Arnold
Running time 30 Minutes
Production company(s) Spartan Productions
Distributor Official Films
Broadcast
Original channel CBS
Original run October 24, 1959 – June 18, 1960

Mr. Lucky is a CBS adventure/drama television series that aired from October 24, 1959, to June 18, 1960, with repeats until September 3. Blake Edwards developed the program as a retooling of his Willie Dante character from Four Star Playhouse, where the role was played by studio boss Dick Powell. In the 1960–1961 season, Howard Duff (1913–1990) assumed the role of Willie Dante in the NBC adventure/drama series Dante. Mr. Edwards directed and co-wrote the first episode of Mr. Lucky, and the credits of the first eighteen episodes included "Entire production supervised by Blake Edwards." Jack Arnold (director of Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man, and It Came from Outer Space) produced the show and directed fifteen of the thirty-four episodes.

Henry Mancini's smooth theme music for the show reached Number 21 in the US singles charts. He released two successful LP's based on the show, Mr. Lucky and Mr. Lucky Goes Latin.

Cast and format[edit]

John Vivyan (1915-1983) played the title character Mr. Lucky. Ross Martin (1920-1981) portrayed Andamo, a character spun off from Edwards' NBC series, Peter Gunn. Pippa Scott had a recurring role as Maggie Shank-Rutherford, Lucky's girlfriend. Tom Brown also had a recurring role, as Lieutenant Rovacs of the city police.

Mr. Lucky is an honest professional gambler with extraordinary luck. He carries a pocket watch whose chimes play the first five notes of the Mr. Lucky theme music. He and Andamo operate a floating casino aboard a luxury yacht anchored outside an American port city. The yacht in reality was the Alamo, a 148 foot yacht owned by former Compton, California mayor Col. C.S. Smith, publisher of the now-defunct Herald American Newspaper chain. Their business brings them into contact with numerous criminals and people hiding from criminals. This continues even after Lucky changes their business to a floating restaurant (see "Format Change" below).

It is unclear if the character's real name was revealed in the television version. The website "TV Obscurities" indicates that Mr. Lucky's actual name was never identified in the series.[1] The episode "Aces Back to Back" reveals that the Mr. Lucky of the series is a veteran of the United States Navy, and in the episode "Odyssey of Hate", he demonstrates that he still knows how to manipulate an M-1 rifle.

The end credits included "Series Based on an Original Story: 'Bundles for Freedom' by Milton Holmes." This story was also the basis of the 1943 motion picture Mr. Lucky, starring Cary Grant. The film and the television series had little in common, except for the title and the suave nature of the lead characters.

The first episode of the series, "The Magnificent Bribe," begins with Lucky and Andamo running a successful casino in Andamo's homeland, the island nation of Chobolobo (the name is not mentioned until the second episode). To stay in business, they must pay a weekly bribe of $1000 to the country's corrupt president (Nehemiah Persoff). They lose everything because of Andamo's revolutionary activities: he uses Lucky's yacht, the Fortuna (named for the Roman goddess of luck), to smuggle guns to the revolutionaries, and he helps a beautiful female assassin (Ziva Rodann) get into position to kill the president. The episode ends with Lucky and Andamo escaping in a small boat with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

In the second episode, "They Shall Not Pass," Lucky and Andamo arrive by freighter in an unnamed American port city. Lucky soon lives up to his name by winning enough money in a crap game to buy another yacht and a truck full of gambling equipment. He renames the yacht Fortuna II (pronounced "Fortuna the Second"), and anchors her outside the three-mile limit to operate as a floating casino.

The city that Lucky and Andamo operate from is never mentioned by name, and various episodes give conflicting clues as to its identity. The city's marked police cars (black and white 1959 Plymouth four-door sedans) are marked simply "POLICE," not with the city's name or seal. Mr. Lucky drove a 1959 Chrysler Imperial convertible.

Format change[edit]

Beginning with the February 6, 1960 episode ("The Brain Picker"), Lucky changed his business from a floating casino to a floating restaurant. This was done by order of the show's sponsor, Lever Brothers, due mainly to the 1950s quiz show scandals. Dwight Whitney wrote about the format change in the following week's issue of TV Guide:

"The Fumigated Air: Lever Bros. came up with a puzzling decision last week. It decided that soap and gambling don't mix. As the sponsor of one of the year's two big hits, Mr. Lucky (the other being Dennis the Menace), the powers-that-be sent down orders that the celebrated television character played by John Vivyan would henceforth have to be made respectabilized. Almost immediately Lucky turned up running a restaurant instead of gambling aboard his ship. By so ordering it seemed that the soap company was taking a big gamble itself. By taking the bite out of the character, it was running a very real risk of transforming one of the season's big hits into a big flop, to say nothing of fumigating the air so thoroughly that even soap suds might seem astringent after that."[2]

Cancellation[edit]

Despite the fact that the show was one of the highest-rated new series of CBS' 1959-1960 season, being ranked 21st among programs with a 24.4 average household share,[3] Lever Brothers (and alternate sponsor Brown & Williamson) cancelled their sponsorship at the end of the season. The network could not find other sponsors to replace them, and finally cancelled the series.

Attempted revivals[edit]

Edwards developed a Mr. Lucky movie for Paramount in the mid-1960s at the same time the studio revived Peter Gunn for the big screen. Aaron Spelling and Edwards later partnered on a movie of the week, Casino, starring Mike Connors, in 1980. Edwards developed another Mr. Lucky revival for New World during the late 1980s at the same time as his Peter Gunn revival starring Peter Strauss.

Episode list[edit]

Episode # Episode title Original airdate
1-1 "The Magnificent Bribe" (pilot) October 24, 1959
1-2 "They Shall Not Pass" October 31, 1959
1-3 "Bugsy" November 7, 1959
1-4 "The Money Game" November 14, 1959
1-5 "That Stands For Pool" November 21, 1959
1-6 "My Little Gray Home" November 28, 1959
1-7 "The Gordon Caper" December 5, 1959
1-8 "Little Miss Wow" (Guest Starring Yvonne Craig) December 12, 1959
1-9 "A Business Measure" December 19, 1959
1-10 "Hijacked" December 26, 1959
1-11 "Aces Back To Back" January 2, 1960
1-12 "Maggie the Witness" January 9, 1960
1-13 "The Two Million Dollar Window" January 16, 1960
1-14 "The Leadville Kid Gang" January 23, 1960
1-15 "The Sour Milk Fund" January 30, 1960
1-16 "The Brain Picker" February 6, 1960
1-17 "The Last Laugh" February 13, 1960
1-18 "The Parolee" February 20, 1960
1-19 "The Tax Man" February 27, 1960
1-20 "The Gladiators" with Kent Taylor March 5, 1960
1-21 "Big Squeeze" March 12, 1960
1-22 "Cold Deck" March 19, 1960
1-23 "His Maiden Voyage" March 26, 1960
1-24 "I Bet Your Life" April 2, 1960
1-25 "Hair of the Dog" April 9, 1960
1-26 "Vote the Bullet" April 16, 1960
1-27 "Hit and Run" April 23, 1960
1-28 "Taking A Chance" April 30, 1960
1-29 "Last Journey" May 14, 1960
1-30 "Operation Fortuna" (Guest Starring Jack Nicholson) May 21, 1960
1-31 "Stacked Deck" May 28, 1960
1-32 "Odyssey Of Hate" June 4, 1960
1-33 "Dangerous Lady" June 11, 1960
1-34 "Election Bet" June 18, 1960

DVD release[edit]

On October 16, 2012, Timeless Media Group released Mr. Lucky - The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 for the very first time. The 4-disc set features all 34 episodes of the series, and a bonus CD featuring Henry Mancini's soundtrack.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Television Obscurities - Mr. Lucky". TVobscurities.com. Retrieved January 29, 2009. 
  2. ^ Whitney, Dwight. "Television Diary", TV Guide Vol. 8, No. 7; February 13, 1960; Issue #359, page A-3
  3. ^ The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present. Ballantine Books. 2003. p. 1458. ISBN 0-345-45542-8. 
  4. ^ "Mr. Lucky - TMG Announces 'The Complete Series' for Release on DVD". 

External links[edit]