Pocketful of Miracles (1961)

Pocketful of Miracles
Directed by Frank Capra
Written by Hal Kanter and Harry Tugend based on a screenplay by Robert Riskin and a story by Damon Runyon
1961/USA
Franton Productions
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental

Junior: She’s like a cockroach what turned into a butterfly!

Comparisons are odious.  Without them, this is an entertaining and amusing Cinderella story.

The story is a remake of Frank Capra’s Lady for a Day (1933) and if you’ve seen that you won’t need a plot summary.  Anyway, Apple Annie (Bette Davis) sells apples on the streets of Manhattan during the depression and apparently is also the leader of a syndicate of panhandlers.  Gangster Dave the Dude (Glenn Ford) buys an apple a day from Annie, believing completely that they bring him luck.

Annie has a secret.  Her daughter (Ann-Margret) has been away in Spain at a convent school since an early age.  She believes her mother is a wealthy socialite.  Now she is about to become engaged to the son of a Spanish count and the Count wants to meet her family.  This sends Annie into a tailspin and jeopardizes Dave’s supply of lucky apples.

In the meantime, Dave needs all the luck he can get because another gangster wants to bring Dave’s territory under Syndicate control.  In the end, Dave must juggle fooling the Count, dodging the rival, and bucking reporters simultaneously.  With Peter Falk as Dave’s henchman; Thomas Mitchell as a stand-in for Annie’s “husband”; Hope Lange as Dave’s girlfriend; Arthur O’Connell as the Count (!); Edward Everett Horton as a butler and a host of familiar faces from times gone by in small roles.

It seems we went to a lot of movies when I was a kid.  I remember some of these better than parts of my own childhood.  Anyway, I saw this in the theater at a young age and loved it.  Of course, I hadn’t seen Lady for a Day at that time, and that is by far the better film.  That doesn’t prevent this from being light, charming, and a lot of fun.  Some of the best parts are watching the old character actors and Davis do their stuff.

Pocketful of Miracles received Academy Award nominations in the categories of Best Supporting Actor (Falk); Best Costume Design, Color; and Best Music, Original Song (for the title tune).

This marked the final film of Capra and Thomas Mitchell.  It was Ann-Margret’s first film.

Trailer – print quality of DVD is much superior