MR. LUCKY: THE COMPLETE SERIES is now available for the first time
ever as a 4-DVD box set from Timeless Media Group… all 34 episodes, with a
running time of about 840 minutes. MR. LUCKY– created by writer/director Blake
Edwards (PETER GUNN) – ran for only one season (from 1959 to 1960), even though
it was a hit with viewers.
This adventure/crime drama is a sort of PETER GUNN Lite, featuring
a lush, organ-powered theme song by Henry Mancini (a bonus CD of MR. LUCKY’s soundtrack
is included in the set), an assortment of shady characters aboard a floating
casino, and competent acting by series regulars John Vivyan (as suave
professional gambler Mr. Lucky), Ross Martin (as his sidekick and business
partner Andamo), Pippa Scott (as Mr. Lucky’s girlfriend Maggie Shank-Rutherford)
and Tom Brown (as Lieutenant Rovacs, Mr. Lucky’s cop buddy).
Edwards directed and co-wrote the first episode of MR. LUCKY, and
the credits of the first 18 episodes include “Entire production supervised by
Blake Edwards.” Jack Arnold (director of THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON,
THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN and IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE) produced the show
and directed 15 episodes. The end credits include “Series based on an original
story: Bundles for Freedom by Milton
Holmes,” which was published in Cosmopolitan
in June 1942. This story was also the basis of the 1943 motion picture MR.
LUCKY, starring Cary Grant as a gambling-ship owner out to fleece a beautiful
society woman (Laraine Day), but who falls in love with her instead. The film
and television series have little in common, except for the title and the suave
nature of the leading man.
According to a March 1942 news item in The Hollywood Reporter, RKO bought Holmes’ story at the request of
Cary Grant, who wanted to star in it. In a 1969 Hollywood Reporter news item, Holmes claimed that his story was
inspired by Edward G. Nealis, the owner of the Clover Club on the Sunset Strip,
a venue for drinking and illegal gambling in the early 1930s. In 1936, Nealis
rigged a one-night gambling benefit at the Beverly Hills Hotel to raise $40,000
for a church.
In the series opener, Mr. Lucky and Andamo are managing a
successful casino in Andamo’s island homeland of Chobolbo. After a brush with
the country’s corrupt El Presidente (Nehemiah Persoff), they lose everything
when Andamo is discovered running guns to the rebels in Mr. Lucky’s yacht Fortuna and they must escape the island in
a small boat with only the shirts on their backs. The adventurers’ fortunes
take a turn for the better when Mr. Lucky (who is gifted with extraordinary luck) wins enough money gambling to
buy another yacht, which he christens Fortuna
II and turns into a high-class gambling casino, anchored in international
waters off the California coast, where U.S anti-gambling laws don’t apply. The
casino attracts a colorful parade of characters, including very seductive
women, criminals on the run, desperate characters hiding from criminals or the
law, kidnappers, hijackers, smugglers, jewel thieves, money-launderers, and victims
of blackmail who turn to Mr. Lucky for help. Mr. Lucky and Andamo are often
caught in dangerous situations, betting on whether or not they’ll survive. (Oddly
enough, Mr. Lucky has no first name and Andamo has no last name.)
Sounds like fun, except the plots are shopworn and the scripts not
terribly well written. Cary Grant clone Vivyan is dashing but lacks charm. Eventually,
Andamo’s quips, witticisms and bon mots
(delivered in a thick Spanish accent) become more annoying than amusing. As for
MR. LUCKY’S unlucky fate, the show’s sponsors (Lever Brothers and Life
Cigarettes) didn’t want their brands associated with gambling, and insisted
that the Fortuna II become a tony private
club, which killed whatever “edge” the show might have had. Even so, the
sponsors bailed and no new sponsors would bankroll Season Two, so (incredibly) this
hit series was cancelled. Such a scenario is unimaginable today. Martin and
Scott went on to flourishing careers, but handsome John Vivyan found little
work after his “big break.” One of Vivyan’s last jobs before his death in 1983 was
a walk-on in an episode of WKRP IN CINCINNATI.
The other directors on the show are Boris Sagal, Lamont Johnson, Jerry
Hopper and Alan Crosland Jr. Among the many guest stars are Stanley Adams, Norman
Alden, R.G. Armstrong, Barbara Bain, Billy Barty, Henry Beckman, Mari Blanchard,
Walter Burke, Richard Chamberlain, Jackie Coogan, Yvonne Craig, Ted de Corsia, Cyril
Delevanti, Brad Dexter, Jack Elam, Don Gordon, Frank Gorshin, Robert H. Harris,
Alan Hewitt, Ted Knight, Berry Kroeger, Joi Lansing, Len Lesser (Uncle Leo on Seinfeld), John Marley, Gavin MacLeod, Yvette
Mimieux, Jack Nicholson (!), Edward C. Platt, Herbert Rudley, Doris Singleton, Jeremy
Slate, William Smith, Warren Stevens, Barbara Stuart, Nita Talbot, Lee Van
Cleef, Virginia Vincent, David White, Peter Whitney, Grant Williams and Will
Image quality on the 4-pack DVD varies from fair to very good.
Audio quality is excellent throughout.
to order MR. LUCKY: THE COMPLETE SERIES.