Lucky Jordan is a 1942 film directed by Frank Tuttle, starring Alan Ladd in his first leading role, Helen Walker in her film debut, and Sheldon Leonard. The screenplay concerns a self-centered gangster who tangles with Nazi spies.
During World War II, gangster Lucky Jordan (Alan Ladd) is drafted into the Army and sent to a training base near his New York home office. He avoids the rigors of boot camp by hiding out in the unit's canteen. But one of the attendants, Jill Evans (Helen Walker), reports him to the base colonel. As a result, he is thrown in the stockade but later escapes by stealing an army engineer's car. Outside the camp, Jordan is run off the road by two thugs, but they drive away when Jill happens onto the scene. Jordan then forces Jill to accompany him to New York City. She responds by angrily throwing out a briefcase containing Army documents. After sneaking back into his downtown office, Jordan learns from a disloyal underling, Slip (Sheldon Leonard), that the two goons he encountered outside the base were after the briefcase Jill discarded. Further, a spy ring is offering $50,000 for it. So after they retrieve the briefcase and its classified documents, Jordan orders Slip to arrange an exchange. But later, the thugs surprise Jordan and abscond with the valuable secrets after knocking him cold.
Once recovered, Jordan tracks the spy ring to a botanical preserve on Long Island. There, he finds Slip and a traitor named Kilpatrick (Miles Mander) holding the papers. Jordan manages to grab them and run off. The preserve's exits are immediately locked, but Jordan hides the papers and an explanatory note inside a man's rolled-up umbrella. Meanwhile, Jill has trailed the AWOL Jordan to the preserve. Once inside, she asks a guard for use of a phone to notify authorities of Jordan's location. Instead, he puts her through to Kilpatrick, who masquerades as a government agent. Totally deceived, she assists in the capture of Jordan. Herr Kesselman (John Wengraf), the spy ring's chief, oversees an interrogation of Jordan, who while under threat of torture quickly invents a story concerning where he supposedly hid the papers. After he is left alone with Kesselman and a lone guard, Jordan wrestles away his gun. He then tells Kesselman he will turn over the papers to the government out of a sense of new-found patriotism. As if on cue, the FBI arrives and nabs the entire ring. Jill tells Lucky he will probably get a medal, but instead he is returned to the stockade to serve out the rest of his punishment.
- Alan Ladd as Lucky Jordan
- Helen Walker as Jill Evans
- Sheldon Leonard as Slip Moran
- Mabel Paige as Annie
- Marie McDonald as Pearl, Lucky's secretary
- Lloyd Corrigan as Ernest Higgins
- Dave Willock as Angelo Palacio
- Russell Hoyt as Eddie
- John Wengraf as Herr Kesselman
- Miles Mander as Kilpatrick
- Clem Bevans as Gas station attendant
- Anthony Caruso as Hired Gun / Gardener
- Charles Cane as Sergeant
- George Meader as Little Man
- Virginia Brissac as Little Man's Wife
- Kitty Kelly as Vera Maggotti
- George Humbert as Joe Maggotti
- Al Hill as First Killer
- Fred Kohler Jr. as Second Killer
The film was based on an original screenplay by Charles Leonard, Prelude to Glory, about a gangster who joins the army. Paramount bought it in March 1942 as a vehicle for Alan Ladd. Karl Tunberg and Darrell Ware were put to work rewriting it. It was Ladd's second film since becoming a star and would be the first where he was billed alone above the title.
Goddard eventually dropped out and her part was taken by Helen Walker. Walker had only arrived in Hollywood a month before being cast; she had been signed by Paramount on the basis of her Broadway success in Jason. This was her first film role.
The movie was retitled Lucky Jordan in July.
The film broke the house record at New York's Rialto cinema in its first year of release.
- "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Jed Harris Resigns From RKO -- Laughton, Maureen O'Hara to Appear in 'The Bells' EIGHT ARRIVALS THIS WEEK 'My Favorite Blonde,' 'Bugle Sounds' and 'Jungle Book' Among the Newcomers Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES". New York Times. Mar 30, 1942. p. 21.
- "Hedda Hopper's HOLLYWOOD". Los Angeles Times. Apr 3, 1942. p. 13.
- "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: 'Without Love' Purchased by Metro -- Katharine Hepburn May Be Seen in Film SIX NEW FILMS THIS WEEK 'Pacific Rendezvous' Opens at Rialto Tomorrow -- 2 Arrive Wednesday, 3 on Thursday Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES". New York Times. July 6, 1942. p. 18.
- "MUSIC HALL MARK FOR 'MRS. MINIVER': Film Will Be First in Radio City's Ten-Year History to Be Held Over for 7 Weeks 858,073 HAVE SEEN IT 'Philadelphia Story's' 815,470 Was Record Holder -- RKO to Produce 'Gibson Girl'". New York Times. July 14, 1942. p. 22.
- "Of Local Origin". New York Times. July 22, 1942. p. 23.
- "HELEN WALKER". Chicago Daily Tribune. Aug 22, 1943. p. C8.
- Schallert, Edwin (Aug 10, 1942). "DRAMA: Deceptive Burnu Gets Important Film 'Break'". Los Angeles Times. p. A14.
- "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: 'Hands of Mercy,' Scheduled for Production in Fall -- Picture Based on Bataan THREE FILMS OPEN TODAY 'All Kissed the Bride,' 'Flight Lieutenant' and 'Mexican Spitfire' on the List". New York Times. July 30, 1942. p. 17.
- "Ladd's Brief Case 'Good Luck' Touch". The Washington Post. Mar 21, 1943. p. L2.
- "Of Local Origin". New York Times. Jan 30, 1943. p. 10.