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The Jackpot Reviews

THE JACKPOT is one of the overlooked films of the early 1950s and is just as funny today as when it was first released. All one need do is substitute a TV show for a radio show and the story plays perfectly. Stewart is a nice, ordinary guy who works in a department store in Smalltown, USA. He's married to Hale and they have two adorable kids, Wood and Rettig. Their tranquil lives are tossed into turmoil when Stewart gets a phone call from a radio show and is able to supply the correct answer to the question: "Who Is the Mystery Husband?" (At that time one of the more popular shows was doing a phone segment where they played the sound of someone walking, gave a few clues, and called listeners. The winner received lots of prizes.) His house is filled with people who congratulate him on his good luck (he'd had some help from newspaperman Gleason) but it turns sour when he is besieged by thousands of dollars worth of soup, a live pony, a dozen timepieces, several thousand dollars worth of plants, a movable swimming pool, and a host of other things that he doesn't need. Their small house has no room for all of the bounty, and his favorite furniture is moved to the garage. Now the IRS wants its cut. He had no idea he'd have to pay income tax on the loot. Hale gets annoyed because one of his prizes is a portrait that will be painted by Medina, a knockout artist. Mowbray arrives as a weird interior decorator who attempts to alter Stewart's favorite place, his living room. Stewart's boss at the store, Clark, can't take all the notoriety and plans to fire him right away. To raise money to pay his taxes, Stewart attempts to sell one of the wristwatches to a bookie just as the cops raid the betting parlor, and he has to spend a night in jail, triggering the loss of his job. Stewart learns that the maxim "there can be too much of a good thing" rings true. In the end, his formerly dull life is restored and he is content to return to what he'd thought was a bore but now welcomes. Stewart proves an admirable farceur here, as do Hale and Gleason. Mowbray, who usually played butlers, gets a welcome respite from that and is very funny. Rettig and Wood are little more than window dressing. THE JACKPOT is a delightful satire that everyone in the family will enjoy.