Posted in Film

The Sandra Bullock Files #7: Lucky Chances (1990)

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The Sandra Bullock Files is a series that looks at the films of Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock, all the way from her debut from 1987, to her two major 2018 releases, Ocean’s Eight and Bird Box.

By 1990, Sandra was slowly appearing in more and more projects that would eventually lead to more legitimate opportunities. But until 1992, when she got her first big screen leading role, she found herself stuck in mediocre movies and television programs. In 1990 after she shot twelve episodes of her failed NBC show Working Girl, she appeared in Lucky Chances, based on the novels Chances and Lucky by Jackie Collins.

The four-and-a-half-hour mini-series, which aired on NBC in October 1990 and later won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography, tells of the rise of a powerful man in the Las Vegas casino industry and his daughter’s struggle to maintain the family empire. Sandra plays the supporting role of Maria Santangelo, who unfortunately gets killed off at the end of Part 1.

Like most everything Sandra made up until 1993, Lucky Chances is a dreary, talky mess. It is acted poorly, shot amateurishly, and moves way too slowly. Worse, it takes forty-five minutes for Sandra to appear. She does get an entrance though, stumbling into a kitchen with a loving musical score accompanying her.

Sandra is stunning in this, maybe more so than in any of her early work. She’s got a glow about her, as if she’s finally starting to relax into her profession. (Or maybe she was happy to be out of sitcom Hell.) She gets to wear gorgeous black dresses, let her hair down all long and glamorous, and smile in almost every scene. She doesn’t have a whole lot to do in this — she mostly looks lovingly at her husband while playing with their children and throwing birthday parties — but she’s more at ease here than in previous projects.

The only real scene of note is Maria’s unexpected demise. How many movies have Sandra died in? Not many. (She is killed off pretty early in The Vanishing, but off-screen.) She’s throwing a birthday party and is approached by a strange-looking man who inquires about her husband’s whereabouts. A few scenes later, her character’s daughter discovers her floating dead in a pool, blood dripping from her mouth. This might be the only time in Sandra’s career she ever played a corpse!

Lucky Chances is important in Sandra’s resume for two reasons. One, it was the first and only time she appeared in a TV mini-series. And two, it was her last major television appearance (outside of an episode of Muppets Tonight and some guest appearances on The George Lopez Show). After this, it would be nothing but feature films.

Best Scene: Sandra’s death scene — lying on a raft in the pool.

Best Line: “Hey, big boy, you wanna stay here and play?”

Fun Facts

At 272 minutes, this is the longest project Sandra has ever appeared in.

This mini-series was followed by a sequel called Lady Boss, which premiered in 1992.

Elizabeth Moss, who would go on to great accolades in Mad Men and The Handmaid’s Tale, plays six-year-old Lucky.

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