The Jackpot


1h 25m 1950

Brief Synopsis

Bill Lawrence wins a slew of prizes on a radio quiz program. His happiness is short-lived when he discovers he'll have to sell the prizes in order to pay the taxes on them.

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 1950
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 8 Nov 1950
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the article "The Jackpot" by John McNulty in The New Yorker (19 Feb 1949).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,830ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

Bill and Amy Lawrence live with their children, Phyllis and Tommy, in Glenville, Indiana, where Bill works at the Woodruff Department Store. Bill is bored by the routine aspects of their life and feels that their future is already programmed. One day at the store, Bill and co-worker Fred Burns are summoned to Woodruff's office. Woodruff is concerned because business is slow and wants them to come up with ideas to improve the situation. He also informs them that he will be going to Europe the following month and that one of them will be selected to run the store in his absence and will receive a promotion. Later, at home, Bill receives a phone call from New York asking him if he will be home that evening to listen to the Federal Broadcasting System's quiz show, Name the Mystery Husband as his number has been selected to be called as part of the $24,000 jackpot contest. Bill assumes the call is a joke being played by one of his friends, who will be present for the regular canasta game that evening, but nevertheless phones his friend, newspaperman Harry Summers, for tips on the mystery husband's identity and learns that it might be either band leader Harry James or writer Charles MacArthur. As the program begins, the card game crowd gathers around the radio, anxious to hear if anyone can guess the identity of the mystery husband, whose disguised voice has been stumping contestants for ten weeks. The program is almost over when Bill's phone finally rings. Bill has to answer a riddle before qualifying to guess the mystery husband and Tommy supplies the answer. Bill then guesses that Harry James is the mystery husband and wins. Prizes are soon delivered to the Lawrence home, and a Mr. Leslie of Harrington Interiors arrives to make over their house. Crowds gather at the house to watch several trucks unloading various items, including a washing machine and a piano. After Harry arrives with a photographer to do a story for the local paper, a taxi delivers another prize, the glamorous Hilda Jones, who has come to paint Bill's portrait. Suddenly, Bill discovers that he will have to pay income tax on all his prizes and consults a tax expert, who tells him that his liability will be $7,000. As his annual salary is $7,500. Bill and Amy decide to sell off most of the prizes. In the meantime, rumors circulate about Bill posing for Hilda, but she is actually painting a portrait of Amy from a photograph Bill has given to her. When Bill sells one of the watches he has won to a store customer, Woodruff tells him to desist. To counteract Bill's "involvement" with Hilda, Amy goes to dinner with Leslie. Bill then takes Amy to see the portrait at Hilda's hotel room, but when Hilda answers his knock at her door very affectionately, Amy leaves in a huff. Several strange people come to the house to view the numerous items for sale. When Bill finds he has to go to Chicago on business, Harry tells him that a sharp character by the name of Flick Morgan might buy some of the rings and watches from him. Bill goes to see Flick, who runs an illegal bookie operation behind a candy store. As Morgan examines a ring, the place is raided by the police, and he takes off with the ring. The police find other jewelry and watches in Bill's possession and arrest him. Meanwhile, the man who bought the watch from Bill has brought it back to Woodruff complaining that it doesn't work and consequently, when Woodruff receives a call from the Chicago police asking to verify Bill's employment, he denies knowing him. After Bill spends a night in jail, Harry comes to clear him and they drive back to Glenville. Along the way, they stop for a drink and Bill has one too many. Harry then phones one of Bill's friends to arrange a surprise wedding anniversary party for that evening. However, Bill and Amy have a fight, and when the party guests arrive, they find Bill leaving, suitcase in hand. The next day, Hilda delivers the portrait and Amy is surprised that it is of her. Hilda tells her that there was nothing between Bill and her and that Amy should hold onto him. When a lawyer, Pritchett, later arrives at the house saying that Bill is on his way, both Bill and Amy assume that Pritchett is there to negotiate divorce terms. Pritchett, in fact, represents Flick Morgan, who has lost the ring he was examining when the raid started. Pritchett tells Bill that Morgan is very grateful to him for not implicating him in the raid and wishes to pay Bill the full amount he asked for the ring, $5,000. After Bill realizes he can use this money to pay his tax liability, he and Amy reunite. Woodruff then drops by to say that his statement to the police was intended only as a joke. Although Bill socks him, Woodruff later promotes him to vice-president.

Cast

James Stewart

Bill Lawrence

Barbara Hale

Amy Lawrence

James Gleason

Harry Summers

Fred Clark

Mr. Woodruff

Alan Mowbray

Leslie

Patricia Medina

Hilda Jones

Natalie Wood

Phyllis Lawrence

Tommy Rettig

Tommy Lawrence

Robert Gist

Pete Spooner

Lyle Talbot

Fred Burns

Charles Tannen

Al Vogel

Bigelow Sayre

Capt. Sullivan

Dick Cogan

Mr. Brown

Jewel Rose

Mrs. Brown

Eddie Fetherston

Mr. McDougall

Estelle Etterre

Mrs. McDougall

Claude Stroud

Herman Wertheim

Caryl Lincoln

Susan Wertheim

Valerie Mark

Mary Vogel

Joan Miller

Mabel Spooner

Walter Baldwin

Watch buyer

Dorothy Adams

Saleslady

Syd Saylor

Ernie the mailman

John Qualen

Mr. Ferguson

Fritz Feld

Long-haired pianist

Kathryn Sheldon

Mrs. Simpkins

Robert Dudley

Mr. Simpkins

Billy Wayne

Photographer

Minerva Urecal

Strange woman

Milton Parsons

Piano player

Kim Spalding

Mr. Dexter

Dulce Daye

Mrs. Dexter

Andrew Tombes

Pritchett

Marjorie Holliday

Telephone operator

Peggy O'connor

Salesgirl

Jack Roper

Moving man

Dick Curtis

Moving man

Guy Way

Moving man

June Evans

Washerwoman

Harry Hines

Elevator man

Carol Savage

Switchboard operator

Franklin Parker

Poker player

Robert Bice

Policeman

Tudor Owen

Policeman

John Roy

Policeman

John Bleifer

Bald man

Tony De Marco

Bookie announcer

Philip Van Zandt

Flick Morgan

Bill Nelson

Truck driver

Jack Mather

First detective

Jay Barney

Second detective

Ann Doran

Miss Bowen

Jerry Hausner

Al Stern

Billy Lechner

Office boy

Frances Budd

Saleslady

George Conrad

Parking lot attendant

Sam Edwards

Parking lot attendant

Harry James

Voice on radio

Elizabeth Flournoy

Harry Carter

Colin Ward

Ken Christy

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 1950
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 8 Nov 1950
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the article "The Jackpot" by John McNulty in The New Yorker (19 Feb 1949).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 25m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
7,830ft (10 reels)

Quotes

"They might detatch your salary."
- Lawyer
"Then I'll quit my job and live on soup."
- William
"They might detach this house."
- Lawyer
"Then I'll burn down the house!"
- William

Trivia

Notes

According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, the studio purchased all rights to the John McNulty article, which appeared under The New Yorker's "A Reporter at Large" column, for $12,500. A radio version of the screenplay was broadcast by Screen Directors' Playhouse on April 26, 1951. That version starred James Stewart and Margaret Truman.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall November 1950

Re-released in United States on Video September 3, 1996

Re-released in United States on Video September 3, 1996

Released in United States Fall November 1950