“He wants you to spend until you’re sick of it — he wants you to learn to hate spending money!”
Monty Brewster (Dennis O’Keefe) comes home from WWII to the news that his eccentric uncle has left him $8,000,000. The only catch is that he must spend $1,000,000 of it within 60 days, with no assets left at the end, and nobody — not even his bride-to-be (Helen Walker) — finding out what he’s doing.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Living Nightmare
- Play Adaptation
Brewster’s Millions — the eternally popular story about a man forced to spend a million dollars as quickly as possible — originated as a novel in 1902, was turned into a stage play in 1906, and has been adapted for film no less than nine times (twice in India). No matter which version you’re watching, however, it’s impossible not to immediately start calculating all the ways you would spend the money if you were in Monty’s shoes; indeed, as I expected, there was once a thread on the (now defunct) IMDb message board for the 1985 Richard Pryor version (which I haven’t seen), asking folks to contribute their thoughts on the subject. (Just for the record, I personally would hire somebody to help arrange an enormous gala event in as many towns and cities across the U.S. as possible, thereby giving the entire country a fun evening and calling it a million dollars within one day — but then there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell).
Dennis O’Keefe does an admirable job in the title role, handling the fast-paced dialogue with ease, and remaining sympathetic (not an easy task) until the very end.
Performances by the rest of the cast — especially Eddie ‘Rochester’ Anderson (Uncle Peter in Gone With the Wind) as Monty’s raspy-voiced employee; Helen Walker as Monty’s understandably frustrated fiancee; and June Havoc as an aspiring dancer who misinterprets Monty’s motivations in funding her theatrical production — are fine as well. Unfortunately, however, it’s hard to really sit back and relax when watching Brewster’s Millions, given that we can’t help feeling anxious about both Monty’s troubles and the confusion his loved ones feel; plus, we’re kept in suspense about the outcome of Monty’s plight until literally the last few seconds of the film. As much as I enjoyed this well-made comedy, I won’t be coming back to it (or any other version of the story) anytime soon — I’m too exhausted!
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
No, but it’s recommended.