If I Had a Million

1932

Comedy / Drama

85
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 1,424

Synopsis


Downloaded 9,595 times
April 2, 2019

Director

Cast

Charles Laughton as Sir William Porterhouse
Gary Cooper as Frederic
Marc Lawrence as Undertaker
Mary Boland as Mrs. Peabody
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
697.7 MB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
88 min
P/S N/A / N/A
1.34 GB
1920×1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
88 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Ron Oliver 10 / 10 / 10

Stars Shine In Celebrated Sequential Film

A grumpy old tycoon postpones dying a while longer so that he can give his fortune away to strangers, a million dollars at a time. IF I HAD A MILLION is an almost legendary example of a rarely used cinematic form, the episodic film. Really a series of common-theme shorts strung together, produced by a conglomeration of writers & directors and using a large array of actors, the episodic film is an easy recipe for disaster if done wrong. Episodes compete or even clash, while the brevity of the individual sections can give the audience scant time to empathize with the characters, resulting in boredom. Here, however, spotlighting the brilliant spectrum of talent available to Paramount Studios, everything jells quite nicely. Some episodes are more famous than others - that is inevitable. But the entire picture as a whole has cohesion & sparkle, something to grab & hold the viewer's attention. Mixing comedy, drama, and some surprisingly effective pathos, the plot of IF I HAD A MILLION - while today a mite creaky, acknowledging its age - should keep most contemporary audiences well satisfied. Director Ernst Lubitsch & writer Joseph L. Mankiewicz are representative of the exceptional talent behind the camera. On film the following stars perform, all excellent: Prologue - Richard Bennett as the millionaire. Episode 1 - Timid, henpecked Charlie Ruggles & Mary Boland as his domineering wife. Episode 2 - Wynne Gibson (uncredited) as a world-weary prostitute. Episode 3 - George Raft as a criminal forger. Episode 4 - Allison Skipworth & W. C. Fields as ex-vaudevillians with a special aversion to road hogs. Episode 5 - Gene Raymond (uncredited) as a prisoner on Death Row. Episode 6 - Charles Laughton as a lowly clerk in a huge office. Episode 7 - Gary Cooper, Jack Oakie & Roscoe Karns as carousing Marines. Episode 8 - May Robson as a feisty old lady in a very restrictive rest home. Fields, Laughton & Ruggles - playing variations on the worm that turns - have come in for a lion's share of the praise down through the years, but all the performers do a very fine job, with Gene Raymond & May Robson especially poignant. Movie mavens will enjoy spotting many familiar faces among the uncredited character actors: Grant Mitchell, Clarence Muse, Frances Dee, Berton Churchill in Episode 5; Joyce Compton & Lucien Littlefield in Episode 7; Dewey Robinson, Margaret Siddon, Gail Patrick in Episode 8; and Samuel S. Hinds as one of the millionaire's lawyers. Episode 2 presents some pre-Production Code situations and Episode 5 is relentlessly downbeat. These sequences were often excised for television showings in decades past.

Reviewed by wmorrow59 8 / 10 / 10

Something for everyone: comedy, melodrama, a hint of sex and several car crashes

I love this movie, it's a special favorite of mine, and the memory of my first viewing of it thirty-some years ago is so pleasant that it's hard for me to be objective about its merits. That said, after seeing it again recently I'm more convinced than ever that If I Had a Million is one of the most underrated films of the '30s. As far as I'm concerned this is a movie that has it all: comedy, pathos, irony, melodrama, a hint of sex, several car crashes, and a cast boasting some of the greatest character actors of all time. Maybe it isn't perfect, maybe the tone is erratic and a couple of segments are a bit weak, but taken as a whole it's as entertaining as any film of its era. The story concerns millionaire industrialist John Glidden, who is ill and believed to be dying. Sick he may be, but Glidden is nevertheless energized by the contempt he feels for the greedy relatives who have gathered to await his death -- and to collect whatever monies they might inherit, of course. Glidden is so infuriated by this hypocrisy that his anger gives him a new lease on life, and it inspires an idea that fills him with glee: he decides to leave his fortune to total strangers, one million dollars at a time. At first the plan is driven by spite, but as it unfolds Glidden becomes increasingly interested in the people who receive his bequest, in how they react to their unexpected luck and what impact the money has on their lives. Made in 1932 in the depths of the Great Depression, If I had a Million surely must have represented a mouth-watering wish-fulfillment fantasy at the time of its release, when even a hundred dollars would have amounted to an amazing windfall for many viewers. The cast of familiar faces in cameo roles was a strong selling point in the wake of Grand Hotel and other star-studded extravaganzas, and naturally it's fun to see Gary Cooper, W.C. Fields, Charles Laughton, etc., among the players, but watching the film again today I am especially struck by the performance of Richard Bennett as millionaire John Glidden. Bennett (father of Joan and Constance) was a veteran stage actor who recognized this role for the plum assignment it was, and threw himself into it with gusto. His exuberant performance really drives the opening scenes and gives the story the strong presence needed to link the segments in a satisfying way. Bennett, wild-eyed and giddy, kicks off the show with all stops out, and this not only grabs our attention immediately but also serves to sharpen the contrast with the more subdued Glidden who returns at intervals throughout. Reviewers commenting on this film tend to single out the comedy segments featuring Laughton, Fields, and Charles Ruggles, and they're all terrific -- although Laughton's scene is best recalled for its extreme brevity and resounding punchline -- but some of the dramatic vignettes of If I had a Million are equally notable. Wynne Gibson is poignant as the waterfront prostitute who can't believe Glidden is on the level, while George Raft, never the most nuanced of actors, is surprisingly effective as the small-time crook who comes to realize that his ostensible good fortune is not a blessing but a curse. The maudlin Death Row sequence featuring Gene Raymond has never been anyone's favorite, but at least it's brief. Two older actresses, Alison Skipworth and May Robson, each make a strong impression in separate segments. Skipworth is a joy as an aging vaudevillian settling into retirement, and she more than holds her own alongside W.C. Fields in the crowd-pleasing "road hog" sequence. Robson is gallant and deeply sympathetic in the final vignette, set in a home for old ladies, where she serves as a fierce advocate for the women against the home's repressive, tyrannical director. This last sequence is the longest in the film and teeters on the brink of sentimentality, but ultimately leaves us with the most satisfying denouement of them all. As I noted up top my first viewing of this movie was a very pleasant one. In the summer of 1970 I rented a 16mm print of If I had a Million to show at a party, and it scored a big hit. The kids loved the car crashes, Charlie Ruggles' plate-smashing spree, and Laughton's Bronx cheer, while the grown-ups appreciated the clothing, slang, automobiles and general trappings of the early '30s, a period they remembered first-hand. In later years I found that broadcasts of the film on TV usually lacked the sequences featuring Wynne Gibson and Gene Raymond, and still later I found that the movie itself had become scarce, rarely shown anywhere and never officially offered in a home-viewable format. This limbo is apparently due to legal issues involving copyrights, but I do hope the matter will be resolved eventually. If I had a Million is a delightful film that richly deserves rediscovery by a new generation!

Reviewed by lugonian 8 / 10 / 10

Who wants to be a millionaire?

"If I Had a Million" (Paramount, 1932), directed by seven directors including Ernst Lubitsch and James Cruze, etc., is the first of it's kind released during the early sound era, an all star cast with eight separate stories. The central character is the supposedly dying John Glidden (Richard Bennett), an elderly millionaire, who would rather leave his fortune to various strangers whose names he picks with a medicine dropper from a telephone directory, than to his immediate relatives. The first name he picks happens to be John D. Rockefeller! (If this movie were to be remade today, it probably would be Bill Gates!) Turning the pages, he settles with the next name in line. The story to each beneficiary is told. (1) Henry Peabody (Charles Ruggles), a nervous clerk in a china-ware store finds his paycheck is limited by him breaking all the china. He must also cope with his nagging wife (Mary Boland) who awaits at the door to get and spend his paycheck money. See the results when Henry receives his million dollar check by Glidden; (2) Violet Smith (Wynne Gibson), a waterfront prostitute, is given the check personally by Glidden in a bar, and after being convinced the check is "not a gag," she uses the money to sleep alone in a hotel. This short segment was sometimes the one that got the ax from local TV prints; (3) Eddie Jackson (George Raft), a check forger wanted by the police, receives the check from Glidden, but finds he can't cash it; (4) Emily LaRue (Alison Skipworth), and Rollo (WC Fields), a vaudevillian and juggler, are owners of a boardinghouse. They acquire a brand new car, and after a drive, they return with a car wrecked that was caused by a "road hog." After obtaining the million dollar check by Glidden, they purchase a fleet of cars and get even with the "road hogs," about town by having a car smashing day. Of all the episodes, this is the one most remembered, even long after the movie is over; (5) From the comedic standpoint comes a dramatic theme featuring John Wallace (Gene Raymond), a condemned murderer, who pleads innocent, getting the check shortly before he is to be executed in the electric chair. But can he use the money in time to get a new lawyer and trial? Frances Dee appears briefly as John's wife who visits him in prison. This segment is another one that was usually cut from TV prints. It's now restored; (6) Phineas Lambert (Charles Laughton), a meek little office clerk, gets his check by mail, and in his own special way, walks up a flight of stairs and goes through office door to office door to go tell his employer what he can do with his job. (Everyone's dream, I gather, then and now). This short segment, done mostly in mood and silence, is in many ways, priceless; (7) Steven Gallagher (Gary Cooper), a U.S. Marine in the brig, gets his check on April Fool's Day, and upon his release, decides to give it away to pay a back debt to a lunch stand owner. Although this is a so-so segment, the result is funny. Jack Oakie and Roscoe Karns add some comedy relief as Cooper's Marine buddies; (8) The most touching and longest segment is the last one with Mary Walker (May Robson), a forgotten grandmother couped up in the Idylwood Home for the Aged, who must tolerate unbearable rules and regulations by the unsympathetic supervisor (Blanche Frederici), until she gets her check from Glidden and gets her revenge. Each story in "If I Had a Million" speaks for itself as to what ordinary people would do or want to do if they had that opportunity to have a million dollars. As in most episodic movies, some segments are good, others could be weak, and maybe one or two that could be best and the most talked about. Frequently shown on commercial television back in the 1960s until the 1980s, with certain segments taken out to fit in the usual 90 minute time slot with added commercial breaks, "If I Had a Million," did resurface, much to the delight of classic movie fans, on Turner Classic Movies from July 2001 to May 2002. A video or DVD copy with complete story and segments can be purchased by going on the website of Movies Unlimited. (***)

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