Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy is a 1929 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Norman Taurog and Charles C. Wilson and starring George Jessel.[4] The film was mainly a silent film with synchronized music and sound effects, as well as some talking sequences.[5] The film's plot bore strong similarities to that of the hit 1927 film The Jazz Singer, which had originally been intended to star Jessel before Al Jolson took over the role.[6]

Lucky Boy
Ghetto lobby card.jpg
Lobby card using the working title The Ghetto
Directed byNorman Taurog
Charles C. Wilson
Produced byJohn M. Stahl
Screenplay byIsadore Bernstein
George Jessel
Harry Braxton
Based on"The Schlemiel"
by Viola Brothers Shore
StarringGeorge Jessel
Music byHugo Riesenfeld
CinematographyHarry Jackson
Frank Zucker[1]
Edited byDesmond O’Brien
Russell Shields
Distributed byTiffany-Stahl Productions
Release date
  • February 2, 1929 (1929-02-02)
Running time
10 reels (8900 ft.)[3]
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)
Synchronized music, sound effects, and dialogue
Box office~$1,000,000


A young Jewish man works in his father's jewelry business, but he does not like it at all—he wants to be an entertainer, something he knows that his father would never approve of. He comes up with a scheme to put on his own show in a theater and show his father that he can be a success, but things do not work out quite as well as he planned.



The film was originally developed with the title The Schlemiel,[7] and was filmed without sound by director Norman Taurog under the working title of The Ghetto in April 1928.[8] Based on his role in the original stage production of The Jazz Singer, Jessel was billed as "The Original Jazz Singer" in advertisements.[9]


The film's theme song (featured four times) was "My Mother's Eyes", which (along with the titular song "Lucky Boy") was composed by Abel Baer with lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert.[2] The film also featured a score by Hugo Riesenfeld; "You're My Real Sweetheart" and "In My Bouquet of Memories" by Sam M. Lewis, Joe Young, and William Axt; "Keep Sweeping the Cobwebs Off the Moon" by Sam M. Lewis, Joe Young, and Oscar Levant; and "My Blackbirds are Bluebirds Now" by Irving Caesar and Cliff Friend.[10]

Alongside Lucky Boy's theatrical release, "My Mother's Eyes" was released by RCA Victor as a single (Victor 21852) backed with "When the Curtain Comes Down" written by Carl Hoefle, Al Lewis & Al Sherman.[11] As well as becoming Jessel's signature number, the song was re-recorded several times, including an instrumental version by Tab Smith (1952), Frankie Valli's debut 1953 single (which also featured in the 2005 jukebox musical Jersey Boys and its 2014 film adaptation), and the titular song from the Sonny Stitt album, My Mother's Eyes (1963).[12]


Considered to be lost for many years, Lucky Boy is still in existence with a copy of the film held in the UCLA Film and Television Archive.


  1. ^ Shrek, Jay M., ed. (January 26, 1929). "While Other Companies are Talking 'Talkie' Pictures, Tiffany-Stahl is Delivering Them". Exhibitors Herald World. Vol. 94 no. 4. Chicago, IL. pp. 6–7 – via Internet Archive.
  2. ^ a b Munden, Kenneth W., ed. (1997) [1971]. The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States. F2: Feature Films, 1921–1930. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 466. ISBN 978-0-520-20969-5.
  3. ^ McNeil, H. N., ed. (January 12, 1929). "Lucky Boy". Movie Age. Vol. 7 no. 8. Minneapolis, MN: Associated Publications Inc. p. 16. ISSN 0006-8527.
  4. ^ "Lucky Boy Sentimental; Hero, Played by George Jessel, Has Rough Road Attaining Stardom. Other Photoplays". The New York Times. February 25, 1929.
  5. ^ Progressive Silent Film List: Lucky Boy at
  6. ^ Barrios, Richard (1995). A Song in the Dark: The Birth of the Musical Film. Oxford University Press. pp. 12–16, 145–146. ISBN 978-0-19-508811-3.
  7. ^ Fox, Stuart (1 August 1976). Jewish Films in the United States: A Comprehensive Survey and Descriptive Filmography. Boston, MA: G. K. Hall. p. 27.
  8. ^ Edwin M. Bradley (29 February 2016). Unsung Hollywood Musicals of the Golden Era: 50 Overlooked Films and Their Stars, 1929-1939. McFarland. pp. 12–16. ISBN 978-1-4766-2400-6.
  9. ^ Donald Crafton (22 November 1999). The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound, 1926-1931. University of California Press. pp. 310–311. ISBN 978-0-520-22128-4.
  10. ^ Bradley, Edwin M. (11 August 2004). The First Hollywood Musicals: A Critical Filmography of 171 Features, 1927 through 1932. McFarland. pp. 26–27. ISBN 978-0-7864-2029-2.
  11. ^ Johnson, Axel B., ed. (March 28, 1929). "Analytical Notes and Reviews". Phonograph Monthly Review. Vol. 3 no. 6. Boston, MA: The Phonograph Publishing Co. p. 213 – via Internet Archive.
  12. ^ Wilde, Amanda (May 7, 2015). "'My Mother's Eyes': The History Of A Ballad for Moms". KUOW. KUOW News and Information. Archived from the original on January 11, 2020.

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