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Pocketful of Miracles

Screening on Film
Directed by Frank Capra.
With Glenn Ford, Bette Davis, Hope Lange.
US, 1961, 35mm, color, 136 min.
Print source: Park Circus

United Artists agreed to finance and distribute Pocketful of Miracles, if—Frank Capra Productions could sign up one incandescent superstar, or two workaday stars that could twinkle but not dazzle. So FCP bought the remake rights to Lady for a Day [...] and searched Hollywood’s heaven for a super-nova or two prosaic novas to scintillate in the starring roles.

The two biggest parts were, of course, Dave the Dude, tough, cocky, but superstitious midtown bootlegger who is feuding with the mob for control of the Manhattan territory, and Apple Annie, the ruthless ruler of the Times Square panhandlers, who gets in a jam by living a lie to her illegitimate daughter. [….]

The first indication that Lady Luck had deserted me—after a forty-year honeymoon—occurred after the third day of shooting: That night the headaches returned. [...] How could the filming of Pocketful, torn with discord and loathings, directed by a walking zombie, stumble through to completion—within its budget and schedule? By occupational pride that transcends hazards. Amateurs play for fun in fair weather. Professionals play to win in the teeth of torments. Despite Bette Davis’s hatred for Ford, for her part, and for me; despite Glenn Ford’s tying a knot in my guts every time he bounced into a scene like a musical comedy funny-man; despite my unfocused state between sleeping and waking [...] I kept plugging away [...].

Peter Falk was my joy, my anchor to reality. Introducing that remarkable talent to the techniques of comedy made me forget pains, tired blood, and maniacal hankerings to murder Glenn Ford. Thank you, Peter Falk. — FC

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