Lucky Boy (1929 film)

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Lucky Boy
Ghetto lobby card.jpg
Lobby card using the working title The Ghetto
Directed by Norman Taurog [1]
Charles C. Wilson
Screenplay by Isadore Bernstein
George Jessel
Harry Braxton
Based on"The Schlemiel"
by Viola Brothers Shore
Produced by John M. Stahl
Starring George Jessel
Cinematography Harry Jackson
Frank Zucker [2]
Edited byDesmond O’Brien
Russell Shields
Music by Hugo Riesenfeld
Production
company
Distributed by Tiffany-Stahl Productions
Release date
  • February 2, 1929 (1929-02-02)
[3]
Running time
10 reels (8900 ft.) [4]
CountryUnited States
Languages Silent (English intertitles)
Synchronized music, sound effects, and dialogue
Budget$90,000
Box office~$1,000,000

Lucky Boy is a 1929 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Norman Taurog and Charles C. Wilson and starring George Jessel. [5] The film was mainly a silent film with synchronized music and sound effects, as well as some talking sequences. [6] The film's plot bore strong similarities to that of the hit 1927 film The Jazz Singer , which had originally been intended to star Jessel (the star of The Jazz Singer stage production) before Al Jolson took over the role. [7]

Contents

Plot

A young Jewish man works in his father's jewelry business, but he does not like it at all—he wants to be an entertainer, something he knows that his father would never approve of. He comes up with a scheme to put on his own show in a theater and show his father that he can be a success, but things do not work out quite as well as he planned.

Cast

Production

Lobby card Ghetto lobby card 2.jpg
Lobby card

The film was originally developed with the title The Schlemiel based on a story by Viola Brothers Shore. [11] It was initially filmed without sound by director Norman Taurog under the working title of The Ghetto in April 1928, [12] reportedly in a "record time" of twelve days. [13] Based on his role in the original stage production of The Jazz Singer, Jessel was billed as "The Original Jazz Singer" in advertisements. [14] Jessel was credited with writing the spoken and intertitle dialogue. [15]

Music

The film's theme song (featured four times) was "My Mother's Eyes", which (along with the titular song "Lucky Boy") was composed by Abel Baer with lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert. [3] The film also featured a score by Hugo Riesenfeld; [16] "You're My Real Sweetheart" and "In My Bouquet of Memories" by Sam M. Lewis, Joe Young, and William Axt; "Keep Sweeping the Cobwebs Off the Moon" by Sam M. Lewis, Joe Young, and Oscar Levant; and "My Blackbirds are Bluebirds Now" by Irving Caesar and Cliff Friend. [17]

Alongside Lucky Boy's theatrical release, "My Mother's Eyes" was released by RCA Victor as a single (Victor 21852), [18] backed with "When the Curtain Comes Down" written by Carl Hoefle, Al Lewis & Al Sherman. [19] As well as becoming Jessel's signature number, the song was re-recorded several times, including an instrumental version by Tab Smith (1952), Frankie Valli's debut 1953 single (which also featured in the 2005 jukebox musical Jersey Boys and its 2014 film adaptation), and the titular song from the Sonny Stitt album, My Mother's Eyes (1963). [20]

Preservation

Considered to be lost for many years, Lucky Boy is still in existence with a copy of the film held in the UCLA Film and Television Archive. [21]

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References

  1. "'Ghetto' Finished". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Vol. 42, no. 219 (Tri-State ed.). Spokane, WA. Associated Press. June 1, 1928. p. 25 via Newspapers.com.
  2. Shrek, Jay M., ed. (January 26, 1929). "While Other Companies are Talking 'Talkie' Pictures, Tiffany-Stahl is Delivering Them". Exhibitors Herald World . Vol. 94, no. 4. Chicago, IL. pp. 6–7 via Internet Archive.
  3. 1 2 Munden, Kenneth W., ed. (1997) [1971]. The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States. Vol. F2: Feature Films, 1921–1930. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 466. ISBN   978-0-520-20969-5.
  4. McNeil, H. N., ed. (January 12, 1929). "Lucky Boy". Movie Age . Vol. 7, no. 8. Minneapolis, MN: Associated Publications Inc. p. 16. ISSN   0006-8527.
  5. "Lucky Boy Sentimental; Hero, Played by George Jessel, Has Rough Road Attaining Stardom. Other Photoplays". The New York Times . February 25, 1929.
  6. Progressive Silent Film List: Lucky Boy at silentera.com
  7. Barrios, Richard (1995). A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film. Oxford University Press. pp. 12–16, 145–146. ISBN   978-0-19-508811-3.
  8. Ross, Allan C., ed. (May 25, 1928). "'Ghetto' New Jessel Title". Democrat and Chronicle. Vol. 96, no. 59. Rochester, NY: Jerome D. Barnum. p. 11 via Newspapers.com.
  9. Kingsley, Grace (May 16, 1928). "Writer is Chosen Director". Los Angeles Times. Vol. 47, no. 165. Part 2, p. 10 via Newspapers.com.
  10. Dickson, Edward A., ed. (June 1, 1929). "Plays, Pictures and Players". Los Angeles Evening Express. Vol. 58, no. 58. Dickson & Earl. p. 14 via Newspapers.com.
  11. Fox, Stuart (August 1, 1976). Jewish Films in the United States: A Comprehensive Survey and Descriptive Filmography. Boston, MA: G. K. Hall. p. 27. ISBN   9780816178933.
  12. Edwin M. Bradley (February 29, 2016). Unsung Hollywood Musicals of the Golden Era: 50 Overlooked Films and Their Stars, 1929-1939. McFarland. pp. 12–16. ISBN   978-1-4766-2400-6.
  13. Trueblood, Ralph W., ed. (June 5, 1928). "Without Forty Winks". The Los Angeles Times. Vol. 47. The Times-Mirror Company. Part 2, p. 10 via Newspapers.com.
  14. Donald Crafton (November 22, 1999). The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound, 1926-1931. University of California Press. pp. 310–311. ISBN   978-0-520-22128-4.
  15. Conkling, D. H., ed. (February 10, 1929). "Broadway Comedian Stars in 'Talkie' at Arcade Theater". The Palm Beach Post. Vol. 20, no. 365. West Palm Beach, FL: The Post Publishing Co. Section 1, p. 4 via Newspapers.com.
  16. "On Stage and Screen". The Salt Lake Tribune. Vol. 118, no. 13. Salt Lake City, UT: Salt Lake Tribune Publishing Company. Associated Press. October 28, 1928. p. 11 via Newspapers.com.
  17. Bradley, Edwin M. (August 11, 2004). The First Hollywood Musicals: A Critical Filmography of 171 Features, 1927 through 1932. McFarland. pp. 26–27. ISBN   978-0-7864-2029-2.
  18. Irving Zuelke Music Company (March 8, 1929). "My Mother's Eyes". The Post Crescent (Ad). Vol. 50, no. 240. Appleton, WS: The Post Publishing Company. p. 20 via Newspapers.com.
  19. Johnson, Axel B., ed. (March 28, 1929). "Analytical Notes and Reviews". Phonograph Monthly Review. Vol. 3, no. 6. Boston, MA: The Phonograph Publishing Co. p. 213 via Internet Archive.
  20. Wilde, Amanda (May 7, 2015). "'My Mother's Eyes': The History Of A Ballad for Moms". KUOW . KUOW News and Information. Archived from the original on January 11, 2020.
  21. Taurog, Norman. "Lucky Boy" (1929) [Various]. MP Motion Picture Collection, ID: 78925. Los Angeles, CA: Film & Television Archive, UCLA Library.