19 January 2007 | blanche-2
A swindler falls in love with his mark
Cary Grant is "Mr. Lucky," a 1943 films also starring Laraine Day, Charles Bickford and Gladys Cooper. Grant plays a self-serving swindler named Joe who takes the identity of a dying man who's 4F so that he won't have to go into the service. The name he takes is that of a Greek man, Joe Bascopoulos, but the name will bring him more than just a 4F classification. Needing money to get his gambling ship started, he sees an easy mark in Dorothy Bryant (Day), one of the administrators of a War Relief Fund. He uses his considerable charm to persuade her to let him run a casino night as part of the organization's big fundraiser. The plan is to use cash boxes with false bottoms and take off with nearly all of the money. Just one hitch - Joe has fallen in love with Dorothy.
This is a slightly different role for Grant - he plays a real low-life and at that, one with no style. One of the running jokes is his rotten ties and inability to tie them right. Grant is perfect in the role, as well as incredibly handsome. But it's only a slightly different part - like Tyrone Power, who tried so hard to change his image in 1947 with "Nightmare Alley," Grant tried too, and like Power, was sabotaged by the producing studio. In Power's case (who actually would have done well had Zanuck let him have more traditional Cary Grant type roles), he was allowed to make the film and play a low character, but his studio, 20th Century Fox, did not publicize the film nor release it widely. In Grant's case, he'd happily accept a role - such as this one or his part in "Suspicion" - only to have the script changed so that he's not a total heel. It had to be frustrating for these actors who were capable of so much more than they were allowed to do.
Lovely Laraine Day is just right as the young, rich Dorothy who passionately believes in helping the war effort. Day had an air of sophistication that lent itself well to these wealthy society girl roles.
"Mr. Lucky" is beautifully photographed in black and white, with lots of interesting shadows and fog. The film also has some very funny moments - Grant learning to knit is just one.
This is a very good movie and somewhat of a departure for Grant, a cousin to his role in "Suspicion."