Lucky Jordan is a gangster living in New York City and when he's drafted into the army, he tries to escape duty by using an old con woman named Annie to convince the draft board he's needed at home. When that fails, Jordan is sent to boot camp, but he doesn't stay there long. He takes a beautiful USO worker hostage and flees back to New York. There, he learns that a rival gangster is plotting against America.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN November 07, 2023 at 12:26 PM
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.
Reviewed by Doylenf7 / 10
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.
Reviewed by babblingbooks7 / 10
entertaining spy thriller with a light touch
This picture was fun to watch. Alan Ladd had a style as a gangster that counterpointed well with the wonderful Sheldon Leonard ("Hey, Buddy, ... C'mere!") Helen Walker presented an unusually perky, sexy look that was never really exploited in the movies. When she distracted the nazi spy he was not alone. I sat through the movie again to be distracted a second time. The picture may become a cult 'classic', if it has not already and I recommend most insistently that you view it. Ladd's involvement with the old 'bag lady' will touch you. Once again, for a light comedy, spy thriller (The Second World War was in full sway) it was away ahead of most of it's ilk. My favourite Alan Ladd movie.