Mr. Lucky (film)
|Directed by||H.C. Potter|
|Produced by||David Hempstead|
|Screenplay by||Milton Holmes|
|Based on||Bundles for Freedom|
1942 story in Cosmopolitan
by Milton Holmes
|Music by||Roy Webb|
|Edited by||Theron Warth|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures (US)|
|Box office||$3.4 million (US rentals)|
Mr. Lucky is a 1943 romance film directed by H.C. Potter, starring Cary Grant and Laraine Day. It tells the story of the attraction between a shady gambler and a wealthy socialite in the days prior to the United States entering World War II.
Swede (Charles Bickford) rows up to a public dock in a dinghy. He hides when he spots a young woman who walks to the end of the pier. When a new night watchman (an uncredited Emory Parnell) notices her, Swede stops him from bothering her. The sailor begins recounting her story, and the film segues into a long flashback.
Joe "the Greek" Adams (Cary Grant) is a gambler and grifter with a couple of problems. First, he and his treacherous partner Zepp (Paul Stewart) have received draft notices to join the army in preparation for World War II. But he has a solution for this – one of his underlings, Joe Bascopolous, has just died, and his status was 4F (unfit to serve). So one of them can dodge the draft by assuming his identity. They gamble for it; Zepp cheats, but Joe still wins. Zepp fails his physical examination anyway.
The other problem is a lack of money to bankroll his gambling ship. He talks the head of the local War Relief organization, Captain Veronica Steadman (Gladys Cooper), into authorizing him to run a "charity" casino, promising to raise enough money to outfit a relief ship, despite the suspicions of her lieutenant, wealthy socialite Dorothy Bryant (Laraine Day).
Eventually, he even charms Dorothy. She tells her snobbish grandfather (Henry Stephenson), to his great dismay, that "Joe's the first man I've ever met I'm afraid of. It's exciting." At one point, Joe teaches Dorothy Australian rhyming slang, for example, "tit for tat" (hat), "twist and twirl" (girl), "storm and strife" (wife). Later, he renames his gambling ship the "Briny Marlin" (darling) in her honor.
On the day of the charity ball, Joe receives a letter addressed to Bascopolous. Curious, he takes it to a Greek Orthodox priest for translation. It turns out to be from Bascopolous's mother in Axis-occupied Greece. She wrote to tell her son that when German paratroopers invaded their village, under his brothers' leadership, every man and boy fought to the death. Moved, Joe sits on a park bench, reexamining his life.
At the ball, Joe's men use false bottoms in the cashboxes to steal most of the money. Joe has a change of heart and tells his right-hand man, the "Crunk" (Alan Carney), that the money is going to war relief. But Zepp overhears and forces him at gunpoint to collect the loot. Dorothy accidentally catches them in the act and thinks Joe is a willing participant. To protect her, he is forced to knock her out. Then, the two men start collecting the money. When Zepp briefly looks away, Joe attacks and kills him, but not before getting shot. Joe escapes, leaving behind a trail of blood. Then, he sends the money back to Dorothy via his trusted friend Swede. He loads his ship with the charity's supplies.
Later, Dorothy is stricken when a policeman informs her Bascopolous is dead. Then she sees the photograph of the man; it is not her Joe. When the name of the ship Bascopolous worked on is mentioned, she rushes to the dock, just as the ship is leaving for Europe. She begs Joe to take her with him, but he tells her she deserves better and turns away to hide his own anguish. The ship is torpedoed and sunk on the return trip. Dorothy visits the pier each night.
The flashback ends. Hoping Dorothy would be present, Swede arranges for Joe to meet him there. When Joe shows up at the other end of the pier, he wants to go out on the town to celebrate their last night in port rather than going back to their ship. Thinking quickly, the guard tells him he cannot leave the dinghy tied up where it is. The watchman settles who has to move it by flipping a coin and Joe loses. As Joe walks to the end of the dock, Dorothy sees him and rushes into his arms. Joe is taken aback, but then embraces her. Meanwhile, Swede examines the coin: it has two heads.
- Cary Grant as Joe Adams/"Joe Bascopolous"
- Laraine Day as Dorothy Bryant
- Charles Bickford as Hard Swede
- Gladys Cooper as Captain Veronica Steadman
- Alan Carney as the "Crunk"
- Henry Stephenson as Mr. Bryant, Dorothy's grandfather
- Paul Stewart as Zepp
- Kay Johnson as Mrs. Mary Ostrander
- Walter Kingsford as Commissioner Hargraves
- Erford Gage as Henchman
- Florence Bates as Mrs. Van Every
- Edward Fielding as Foster, Dorothy's butler (uncredited)
- Emory Parnell as the dock watchman (uncredited)
- Vladimir Sokoloff as the Greek priest (uncredited)
Adaptations to other media
Mr. Lucky was adapted as a radio play on the October 18, 1943, broadcast of Lux Radio Theatre with Cary Grant and Laraine Day reprising their film roles. It was also presented on the January 20, 1950, broadcast of Screen Directors Playhouse with Cary Grant again reprising his film role.
- The Times Digital Library: Earliest cinema advertisement (London Pavilion) 21 August 1943
- "Top Grossers of the Season", Variety, 5 January 1944 p 54
- Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p45
- Richard B. Jewell, Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures, Uni of California, 2016
- "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 43 (2): 33. Spring 2017.
- Mr. Lucky at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Mr. Lucky at the TCM Movie Database
- Mr. Lucky at AllMovie
- Mr. Lucky on IMDb