26 January 2011 | Doylenf
Alan Ladd as a cynical gangster hiding a heart of gold...
Paramount had enough confidence in ALAN LADD (after THIS GUN FOR HIRE and THE GLASS KEY) to give him solo star billing above the title for LUCKY JORDAN. He fits the role of the cynical, wise-cracking Jordan, every inch the cocky wise guy who keeps getting into one scrape after another until the fadeout.
Instead of Veronica Lake, we have HELEN WALKER as the WAC he's forced to kidnap when she threatens to report him to the authorities for minor infractions. It's Walker's first film and she handles her chores with great assurance.
But the scene-stealer is MABEL PAIGE as an old wino who is chosen to act as Ladd's mother, so he can call her a dependent and avoid the military draft. Trouble brews when Ladd's own henchman (SHELDON LEONARD) is part of a scheme to turn over military plans to the enemy during World War II. Ladd gets back at Leonard on a few occasions but really throws the book at the mob when they beat up "his old lady."
All of it is directed at a fast pace by Walter Tuttle. The script is full of one-liners that draw a laugh, most of them delivered in crisp style by Ladd himself. It's easy to see why his popularity as the hottest male star at Paramount was cemented with this film. He's very believable as the cynic with a heart of gold. It's an energetic performance that made the studio realize they had a good prospect for stardom on their hands.
Only quibble: The print shown on TCM was a poor one needing restoration.