26 January 2011 | bkoganbing
A Newly Minted Patriot
After Alan Ladd's success in This Gun For Hire and The Glass Key, roles more traditionally associated with him, Paramount decided to give him top billing in Lucky Jordan, a film remarkably similar to Humphrey Bogart's All Through The Night in which gangster Bogart foils a Nazi spy ring. Although Ladd does well in the part, this was something given Ladd's diminutive stature that James Cagney would have breezed through.
In the title role Ladd is a gangster who's most reluctant to go into military service and leave the lifestyle he's become accustomed to. His number one subordinate Sheldon Leonard is most anxious to see him leave so he can move in on everything including Marie McDonald. Ladd and lawyer Lloyd Corrigan try all kinds of gambits, the last being to hire an Apple Annie type to fake being Ladd's mother so he can claim he's her sole support. Mabel Paige who played the gin swilling old souse is the best one in the film.
Ladd finally goes in the army, but he crashes out like you would in a prison film and accidentally gets some secret plans for a new airplane in the car he hijacked. Furthermore Sheldon Leonard is doing business with people who'd like those plans as the old rackets are drying up do to the war. All this doesn't faze Ladd, not even the pleadings of Helen Walker who is an Army WAC, but when the spies beat up on Paige our boy is not about to see the institution of motherhood defiled.
Lucky Jordan is played tongue in cheek just like All Through The Night. It made a profit for Paramount and confirmed Ladd's box office appeal. But it's firmly rooted in the time and place that the story is set in and hasn't really aged all that well. During his years at Paramount in the Forties Alan Ladd made far better films than Lucky Jordan that have come down as classics. This one is quite a bit less than a classic.