Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mr. Lucky

Another movie that a search of the blog claims I've never blogged about before is Mr. Lucky. It's getting another airing tomorrow morning at 10:00 AM on TCM, so now is a good time for a full-length blog post about it.

Cary Grant stars as Joe Adams, a gangster in an early 1940s coastal city. The early 1940s, of course means that World War II is on, which was of course a problem for gangsters in general. More importantly to Joe, however, is that there's a draft going on, and Joe doesn't want to have to go off and fight in the war. Thankfully, though, Joe has a way out of the draft: there's a petty criminal, Joe Bascopoulos, who's dying, and has been declared 4-F, or unfit to serve. Joe Adams takes over Bascopoulos' identity once the real Bascopoulos dies. At the same time, Joe also comes into possession of an old ship, which he plans to renovate into a gambling ship, which will take people past the 12-mile territorial limit so they can gamble to their hearts' content.

But there are some catches. Joe needs money for the renovations and operations, and with a war on, there's going to be difficulty in finding that money. Ah, but there's a War Relief Fund! They're organizing charity events, so why can't Joe horn in on them, and skim off some of the charity proceeds for himself? Sure, that's not only highly illegal but also terribly immoral, but when have the gangsters let little things like morality stop them? There's a bigger problem with relief fund worker Dorothy Bryant (Laraine Day). Joe begins to fall for her, to the point of using his con games to get people to donate to the relief cause, which causes Dorothy to begin to fall in love with him.

There are still more catches for Joe, however. Bascopoulos, whose identity he took, has some outstanding parole violations, and the way that Adams has been getting the money to renovate the gambling ship gets the police involved. Joe's increasing attraction to Dorothy is also beginning to give him some moral qualms, but even more so is what he learns about Bascopoulos' family. In theory, it wouldn't be that unrealistic if Joe had an epiphany in time of war, but of course there's a problem in that there are other gangsters who have been relying on Joe to get him this money from the charity gambling event Joe has ben planning.

Mr. Lucky is an interesting movie in part because the character Cary Grant plays is so atypical for him. The only other characters close to this that I can think of Grant playing are in Suspicion and None But the Lonely Heart. Grant does a pretty good job, although I don't think he's quite as believable playing the criminal who falls in love that somebody like a young Gregory Peck did so well in Yellow Sky. There are also some script problems, which I think are largely down to having to comply with the Production Code. Still, the script also gives Grant a few lighter moments, such as having to take up knitting for the War Relief Fund. Good training, I suppose, for having to be a male war bride several years later.

Mr. Lucky has received a DVD release courtesy of the Warner Archive Collection.

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