Sweepstakes Winner (1939)

Sweepstakes Winner (1939)

Prolific character actor Allen Jenkins and “Jinx” (Charley Foy one of the “Seven Little Foys”) play two down on their luck gamblers and fast talking swindlers who just lost their last dime betting on a horse that came in last. Fortunately a small town girl Jennie Jones (Marie Wilson) from Athens Nebraska has just made her way to the big city and is looking for them. Though initially they avoid her like the plague thinking she’s a process server they find out that she has just inherited $1000 and is determined to buy Firefly a race horse. After telling her that Firefly a horse that has had some past success would cost at least $5000 they convince her to bet “the grand” on a five-to-one shot in the last race. The verbal exchanges between Jenkins and Jennie are comical because of the heavy slang he uses to communicate which is exacerbated by her naivete such that Jinx has to translate a lot of his phraseology.

Jenkins then races down to the gambling house to place her bet but is distracted by a hot tip he receives when he gets there. Instead of betting as planned he uses half the amount to follow the hunch. But when the original horse wins and his horse comes in last he arranges with another “associate” to follow him back to his place and rob Jennie right after he gives her a phony stash made to look like $5000 in winnings ($1’s on the inside of two of the $100’s he had left). Afterwards however the associate decides to keep the $500 punching Jenkins in the jaw. Virtually penniless Jennie finds a job as a waitress working for Mark Downey (Johnnie Davis) who’s also from a small town and soon falls in love with her. Regular customers at the restaurant Jenkins and Jinx arrive to have lunch which of course they can’t afford. Instead Jenkins convinces Jennie to take a sweepstakes ticket for their meal. If she wins she’ll get $2500 and an entry in the big race worth $150000. She chooses “shamrock” (the name of the restaurant?) as her pseudonym and selects “Destiny” as her horse.

Sweet natural and blonde Jennie is also very lucky and given the title of the film her ticket is drawn and subsequently Destiny wins too. Grateful and golden hearted she wants to use the money to help care for a retired racehorse. Enter Jenkins and Jinx again who plan to scam her into buying Firefly for an inflated price and keeping the difference. However Jennie’s open & honest nature and outgoing enthusiasm for wanting to have the horse nets Firefly’s current owner the excessive profit instead. But the con men aren’t done with her yet. Though she buys a ranch and decides to race Firefly again who wins three races after she finds the former jockey (Frankie Burke) that had the secret to its past success Jenkins and Jinx are determined to find a way to exploit her ignorance and con her out of her remaining money. And so the cycle continues. Will her lady luck be enough to foil their plans once again?

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