Mr. Lucky (1943)

Mr. Lucky (1943), directed by H.C. Potter.

A gambler needs to avoid the draft and get his casino boat out to sea and down to Cuba. He hits on the cunning plan of volunteering to run a "gaming night" fundraiser for the local war relief committee. The lovely society woman running the show likes him despite his rough edges: how much can she forgive, and can he really take the money and run? Hint from that year: no draft dodgers.

This kind of falls between stools: it is not an actual romantic comedy but does have some funny bits. It is sometimes dramatically heavy and the tone is inconsistent. Too many writers, too much editing afterwards? The framing device of a woman waiting on the foggy docks seems out of place to me.

A couple of continuing gags: Cary Grant and his tough sidekick learning to knit, and this goofy rhyming slang the gamblers are supposed to use: "bottle and stopper" = "copper", "lady from Bristol" = "pistol". As an aside this confirms etymology I suspected from Miller's Crossing (1990): "twist" = "twist and twirl" = "girl".

Laraine Day is the love interest, last seen in The Locket (1946) and Foreign Correspondent (1940). Paul Stewart is the villain without comic relief; is he in the right movie?

It was very popular at the theater and was made into a short TV series in 1959.

Roy Webb score. A little more music might have helped.

Available as a Warner Archive DVD-R, from a poor source with no evidence of restoration.