Mr. Lucky (film)

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Mr. Lucky
File:Mr lucky poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed by H.C. Potter
Produced by David Hempstead
Screenplay by Milton Holmes
Adrian Scott
Based on Bundles for Freedom
1942 story in Cosmopolitan 
by Milton Holmes
Starring Cary Grant
Laraine Day
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography George Barnes
Edited by Theron Warth
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures (US)
Release dates
  • May 28, 1943 (1943-05-28) (US)
  • August 21, 1943 (1943-08-21) (UK[1])
Running time
100 min.
Country United States
Language English
Box office $3.4 million (US rentals)[2]

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 (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. Fortunately, he has a solution. 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 wins anyway. 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), "trouble 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 about German paratroopers invading their village. She describes how, under the leadership of her sons, every man and boy in the village fought the Germans 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 by way of his trusted friend Swede. He loads his ship with the charity's supplies.

Later, Dorothy is stricken when a policeman informs her that 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 that Dorothy would be present, Swede arranged for Joe to meet him there. But 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 [[Coin flipping}flipping a coin]], assigning Swede heads. Joe loses. When he 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.



The film was enormously popular and made a profit of $1,603,000.[3][4]

Adaptations to other media

Mr. Lucky was adapted as a radio play on the October 18, 1943 broadcast of Lux Radio Theater with Cary Grant and Laraine Day reprising their film roles. It was also presented on the January 20, 1950 broadcast of Screen Director's Playhouse with Cary Grant again reprising his film role.

A 1959 TV series Mr. Lucky was loosely based on this film. It lasted only one season and starred John Vivyan in the title role.


  1. The Times Digital Library: Earliest cinema advertisement (London Pavilion) 21 August 1943
  2. "Top Grossers of the Season", Variety, 5 January 1944 p 54
  3. Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p45
  4. Richard B. Jewell, Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures, Uni of California, 2016

External links

Streaming audio