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The Jackpot

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Director  Walter Lang
Music director  Lionel Newman
6.7/10 IMDb

6.4/10 Letterboxd

Genre  Comedy
Language  English
The Jackpot movie poster

Writer  Henry Ephron, Phoebe Ephron
Release date  November 1, 1950
Screenplay  Henry Ephron, Phoebe Ephron
Cast  James Stewart (William J. 'Bill' Lawrence), Barbara Hale (Amy Lawrence), Natalie Wood (Phyllis Lawrence), James Gleason (Harry Summers), Fred Clark (Mr. Andrew J. Woodruff)
Similar movies  Related Walter Lang movies
Tagline  He had a wife, two kids, a home of his own, a job with a future and then POOR JIMMY WON THE $24,000 RADIO JACKPOT!

The Jackpot is a 1950 American comedy film directed by Walter Lang with James Stewart and Barbara Hale in the lead roles. It features a young Natalie Wood.


The Jackpot movie scenes

The screenplay was based on a John McNulty article, "The Jackpot" in The New Yorker (February 19, 1949), about the true experiences of James P. Caffrey of Wakefield, Rhode Island who won $24,000 worth of merchandise on August 28, 1948 from the CBS radio quiz program, Sing It Again.

The Jackpot wwwgstaticcomtvthumbmovieposters6142p6142p

The film is mostly forgotten today but was a successful vehicle for Stewart at the time. A radio adaptation, broadcast April 26, 1951 on NBC's Screen Directors Playhouse, received much press coverage because Stewart's co-star was Margaret Truman, making her debut as a radio actress for a fee of $2,500. She received mixed reviews and noted that her father "enjoyed it".

Characters and story

Bill Lawrence (Stewart), employed at a midwest department store, supports a wife (Hale) and two teenage kids (Wood, Tommy Rettig) on an annual salary of $7,500. Answering a phone call, he wins $24,000 worth of merchandise from a radio quiz program and is overwhelmed by prizes which range from the useful to the absurd, including a side of beef, 7,500 cans of soup, 1,000 fruit trees, a Palomino pony, a portable swimming pool, a diamond ring, a French maid, an interior decorator (Alan Mowbray) and portrait painter Hilda Jones (Patricia Medina).

All is well until Lawrence is told he must sell the prizes in order to pay an income tax of $7000. When he tries to raise the money by selling the merchandise at the department store, his boss (Fred Clark) fires him. When he tries to fence the diamond ring in Chicago, he's arrested. Complicating matters, his wife suspects him of having an affair with Greenwich Village artist Hilda. Dealing with these problems, he gets help from reporter Harry Summers (James Gleason), who had been writing newspaper articles about Lawrence and his winnings. Bandleader Harry James made an uncredited appearance as a radio vocalist.


  • James Stewart as William J. 'Bill' Lawrence
  • Barbara Hale as Amy Lawrence
  • James Gleason as Harry Summmers
  • Fred Clark as Mr. Andrew J. Woodriff
  • Alan Mowbray as Leslie
  • Patricia Medina as Hildegarde Jonet
  • Natalie Wood as Phyllis Lawrence
  • Tommy Rettig as Tommy Lawrence
  • Robert Gist as Pete Spooner
  • Lyle Talbot as Fred Burns
  • Awards

    Scripters Henry and Phoebe Ephron were nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award.


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