Cast & Crew
H. C. Potter
As the lone figure of a woman paces the New York docks one foggy night, Hard Swede, a sailor, tells the night watchman about her. Swede, the former captain of the gambling ship Fortuna , explains that the woman is waiting for the return of the ship and its owner, gambler Joe "the Greek" Adams, but adds that the ship will never return because it is sitting on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Swede then relates the following story: Just prior to America's entry into World War II, the Fortuna is about to sail for Havana when Joe and his partner, Zepp, receive their draft notices. Protesting that he fought his war by crawling out of the gutter, Joe decides to circumvent the draft by assuming the identity of petty criminal Joe Bascopolous, a dying sailor who has been classified 4-F. Joe and Zepp, who has also been classified 1-A, roll the dice for the ownership of the boat and Bascopolous' 4-F card, and after Joe wins the roll, Zepp goes to the draft board and is himself classified as physically unfit to serve because of a heart condition. Joe is searching for a way to raise money to sail when socialite Dorothy Bryant approaches him on the street and asks him to buy a ticket to the War Relief charity ball. Realizing that the ball offers a perfect way for him to raise the money, Joe visits the all female War Relief office and suggests that a gambling concession at the ball could easily raise $100,000 to send medical supplies to Europe. Captain Steadman, the head of the organization, is charmed by Joe and his idea, but Dorothy protests that gambling is illegal. After leaving the draft board, Zepp, meanwhile, returns to the ship and finds a letter from the parole board addressed to Bascopolous, notifying him that he is in violation of his parole and will be automatically imprisoned for life if he commits one more criminal offense. Zepp pockets the letter and, after lying that he has several weeks to report for duty, asks to stay onboard the boat. Joe, undaunted by Dorothy's opposition, returns to the War Relief office to enlist as a recruit and Dorothy puts him to work knitting. The next day, Joe wins Dorothy's admiration when he uses a trick coin to get McDougal, a purveyor of used blankets, into donating his merchandise to the war effort. When Dorothy asks Joe why he is so interested in aiding her organization, he sees some newspaper headlines announcing the Nazi invasion of the Varda Valley and tells her that his family lives there and he just wants to do his part. Feeling guilty, Dorothy invites Joe to accompany her to the docks, where Comstock, a supplier, has refused to unload a shipment of supplies without payment. At the docks, Joe follows Comstock into his office and strongarms him into releasing the supplies. In the struggle, Comstock tears Joe's jacket and Dorothy insists on bringing him home to repair it. On the drive home, Joe teaches Dorothy a form of rhyming slang in which the words "my darling" would be transposed as "briny marlin." Joe thinks that Dorothy invited him home for romantic reasons, and when she denies this, he offers to settle their differences by playing the same coin game he used on McDougal. When Dorothy incorrectly assumes that he plans to trick her, Joe, insulted, coldly informs her that his motto is "never give a sucker an even break, but don't cheat a friend." Joe's words shame Dorothy into offering him the gambling concession, and a triumphant Joe returns to the ship and informs his gang that they will soon sail to Havana with the ball proceeds. Joe requires $6,000 to start the games rolling, and consequently, when Dorothy writes a personal check in the same amount as a deposit on a freighter, Joe offers to deliver the check to Hargraves, the shipping commissioner. At the commissioner's office, Joe watches as Hargraves endorses the check and then convinces him that it is unpatriotic to demand a down payment. Chagrined, Hargraves returns the check and Joe pretends to tear it up. When Joe cashes the check, Dorothy's grandfather, Mr. Bryant, notifies the police, who then visit the War Relief office to arrest Joe Bascopolous for parole violations. After the police appear at the office, Dorothy pretends that Joe is the water man and arranges to meet him later that afternoon. Picking him up in her car, Dorothy, who hates Joe's loud ties, presents him with a new tie and drives him to her country house in Maryland. When they arrive, she tells him about the police and calls her grandfather and threatens to marry Joe unless he calls off the police. Resenting Dorothy's threat, Joe accuses her of feeling superior to him, but she denies this and kisses him. They then drive back to New York, and after dropping Dorothy at her house, Joe speeds away, confused. Later, Joe appears at Dorothy's door, and after asking her to reknot his tie, he kisses her. That evening, before the ball, Joe asks Swede about Bascopolous, and Swede shows him a letter, written in Greek, addressed to the dead sailor. Taking the letter to a Greek priest for translation, Joe learns that the letter is from Bascopolous' mother, notifying him that his two brothers have died while defending their village from the Nazis. After the priest comforts him with a prayer, Joe goes to the ball, puts $6,000 in an envelope addressed to Hargraves, and then declares that all the proceeds will go to War Relief, Inc. Zepp overhears Joe's announcement and tells the gang that he is planning to double-cross them. Later that evening, when Mr. Bryant arrives with the police to confront Joe about Hargraves' check and to demand a stop to the gambling, Joe hands him the envelope addressed to Hargraves and orders the proceeds totalled. In the cashier's cage, Joe is confronted by Zepp and the others, who threaten to expose him as a draft dodger unless he remains silent about the false bottoms in the cash boxes. After the War Relief workers leave the office with a paltry $812 retrieved from the boxes, Zepp unloads the bottoms, rolling the money in a newspaper. Aware that she has been cheated, Dorothy returns to the cage and demands the money. Joe, knowing that Zepp has a gun in his pocket pointed at her, slaps Dorothy unconscious and then slugs Zepp, who shoots Joe. Before the crowd can return, the wounded Joe kicks Zepp in the head, gathers the money and escapes. The next day, at the Bryant house, a distraught Dorothy is about to make a statement to the press when Swede arrives to deliver the bundle of money. Although Swede refuses to tell Dorothy where Joe is hiding, she tracks him down when she hears that the Fortuna has been turned into a medical ship and renamed the Briny Marlin . Racing to the docks, Dorothy arrives just in time to see Joe sail away. Although she begs him to let her join him, he refuses. Swede concludes his story by telling the watchman that after delivering the medical supplies, the ship was sunk and he and Joe enlisted in the Merchant Marine and are now home on leave. When Joe joins Swede at the docks, the watchman orders them to move their dinghy, which is tied up to the pier on which Dorothy is standing. The watchman suggests that they flip a coin to decide who will move it, and employing a two-headed coin, he tricks Joe into losing. As Joe begins to walk toward the boat, Dorothy sees him and the two embrace.
H. C. Potter
J. M. Kerrigan
Hal K. Dawson
Albert S. D'agostino
William Cameron Menzies
M. M. Musselman
James G. Stewart
Richard Van Hessen
Vernon L. Walker
Apparently Cary Grant wasn't so easily swayed by love in real life. Grant married Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heir and niece of E.F. Hutton, in July of 1942. A few months later, when Mr. Lucky was being cast, Louella Parsons ran an item claiming Grant's wife Hutton would play opposite him in the film. That was news to the Grant. It seems his wife had taken a look at his copy of the script for Mr. Lucky and decided she would be perfect as the glamorous heiress. Used to getting what she wanted, Hutton approached RKO head Charles Koerner with her idea. Koerner could practically smell the publicity and thought the real-life husband and wife pairing a grand idea. Grant did not agree, refusing to even consider the idea, and Laraine Day was soon cast.
Grant also had a hand in getting Mr. Lucky from script to screen. Milton Holmes, the co-screenwriter of the film, once worked as a tennis pro at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club. While there he had the opportunity to meet many stars and studio executives. One day he approached Cary Grant with the storyline for Mr. Lucky. Grant liked Holmes' idea, and Holmes was teamed with seasoned writer Adrian Scott to draft the screenplay. Unfortunately, Scott's career would come to a grinding halt in 1947 when he refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee and was sentenced to a year of imprisonment as one of the "Hollywood Ten."
Mr. Lucky would go on to be RKO's biggest grosser since 1939's Gunga Din. A TV series produced by Blake Edwards would follow. 34 episodes of Mr. Lucky aired from October 1959 to June 1960 on CBS.
Director: H.C. Potter
Producer: David Hempstead
Screenplay: Adrian Scott, Milton Holmes (based on the story "Bundles of Freedom")
Cinematography: George Barnes
Editor: Theron Warth
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Mark-Lee Kirk
Music: Roy Webb
Cast: Cary Grant (Joe Adams), Laraine Day (Dorothy Bryant), Charles Bickford (Hard Swede), Gladys Cooper (Capt. Steadman), Alan Carney (Crunk), Henry Stephenson (Mr. Bryant).
BW-100m. Closed captioning.
by Stephanie Thames
The working titles of this film were Bundles for Freedom and From Here to Victory. According to a March 1942 news item in Hollywood Reporter, RKO bought Milton Holmes's story "Bundles for Freedom" at the request of Cary Grant, who wanted to star in it. The studio purchased the story for $30,000 prior to its publication in Cosmopolitan. Materials contained in the RKO Archives Script Files at the UCLA Arts Library-Special Collections reveal that the character of "Joe" dies at the end of Holmes's original story. In a 1969 Hollywood Reporter news item, Holmes claimed that his story was inspired by Edward G. Nealis, the owner of the Clover Club on the Sunset Strip. In 1936, Neales rigged a one-night gambling benefit at the Beverly Hills Hotel to raise $40,000 for a church. According to other materials contained in the Script Files, in June and July 1942, Charles Bracket worked with Holmes on a treatment and adaptation of his story. Although not credited onscreen, Dudley Nichols wrote a final script for From Here to Victory, dated October 23, 1942, just five days prior to the start of the film's production. The CBCS also credits Nichols with screenplay. According to materials contained in the RKO Archives Production Files, Kenneth Earl, M. M. Musselman and Edmund Joseph also worked on continuities for the film. The exact nature of the contribution of these writers to the completed film has not been confirmed, however.
According to other materials contained in the production files, Ruth Warrick tested for the part of "Dorothy." A news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that Anna Lee was also considered for a leading role. This picture marked Alan Carney's screen debut. Laraine Day was borrowed from M-G-M to co-star with Grant and photographer George Barnes was borrowed from David O. Selznick's company to film the production. In 1959-60, CBS broadcast a television series based on Holmes's story. That series, titled Mr. Lucky, was created by Blake Edwards and starred John Vivyan. According to news items in Los Angeles Examiner and Los Angeles Times, in 1956, RKO approached Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin about starring in a musical version of the film. Cary Grant and Laraine Day reprised their roles in a October 18, 1943 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story. Although a March 16, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that William Dozier planned a musical adaptation of Mr. Lucky, to star Frank Sinatra, that film was never produced.