“I want to give somebody a chance at happiness. I don’t care who — I just want somebody to have something worthwhile out of what I spent my life to accumulate.”
A dying tycoon (Richard Bennett) decides to give his money away — $1,000,000 at a time — to eight randomly selected names in the telephone book.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Charles Laughton Films
- Episodic Films
- Ernst Lubitsch Films
- Frances Dee Films
- Gary Cooper Films
- George Raft Films
- Henpecked Husbands
- W.C. Fields Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, fans of “The Millionaire” TV series — or anyone fascinated by the lives of lottery winners — will doubtless enjoy this episodic film, directed by seven different men (including Ernst Lubitsch), and starring a host of Paramount’s most famous actors (Gary Cooper, W.C. Fields, George Raft, Charles Laughton, and more). As with any episodic film, some vignettes are more appealing than others; Peary correctly points out that “you’ll like best the three episodes in which [money can buy happiness]”, and be frustrated by those in which it can’t. Indeed, the most satisfying episodes are, as Peary notes, those in which “the money allows previously powerless people to put authoritarian figures in their place.” It’s a sign of the film’s appeal that, by the end, you feel sad that Bennett only selected eight names instead of more.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Henpecked Charles Ruggles’ nightmarish dreams in the china shop
- Prostitute Wynne Gibson happily settling down for the night with ONE pillow
- An elderly woman (May Robson) changing her oppressive group home into a fun-loving club
- Charles Laughton in the film’s shortest, but perhaps most satisfying, vignette
- W.C. Fields and Alison Skipworth taking revenge on “road hogs”
No, but it’s recommended, if you can locate a copy.