This was the brainchild that launched TV's "The Millionaire," about 25 years later. A dying multi-millionaire can't stand the thought of leaving his fortune to his despised relatives. He decides to give the fortune away, a million dollars at a time, to strangers chosen from the phone book. There are a series of vignettes tied together by the reception of the million dollar check. It is a story of, "just desserts," and its all star cast is perfect in every scene. A must see! I wish they'd release this on video, so I could get a copy.
If I Had a Million (1932) 1080p YIFY Movie
If I Had a Million (1932) 1080p
If I Had a Million is a movie starring Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton, and W.C. Fields. A dying tycoon gives million-dollar windfalls to eight people picked from the city directory.
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The Synopsis for If I Had a Million (1932) 1080p
Tycoon John Glidden, dying though still vigorous, is so dissatisfied with his relatives and associates that, rather than will his money to any of them, he decides to give it away in million-dollar amounts to strangers picked from the city directory. He picks a meek china salesman; a prostitute; a forger; two ex-vaudevilleans who hate road hogs; a condemned man; a mild-mannered clerk; a boisterous marine; and an oppressed inmate of an old ladies' home.
The Director and Players for If I Had a Million (1932) 1080p
The Reviews for If I Had a Million (1932) 1080p
What happens to ordinary people who come into a LOT of moneyReviewed bypatriotsVote: 7/10
This film was one of those episodic films that occasionally were turned out by studios (Paramount in particular) where each story was only tangentially connected to a running theme. Other examples are O. HENRY'S FULL HOUSE (five of O. Henry's short stories) and WE'RE NOT MARRIED (five stories of couples erroneously married by Victor Moore, before his justice of the peace powers legally began). TALES OF MANHATTAN was another sample of this type of film, using the same man's evening suit as the connecting link between the stories. American films are not the only ones that use this. Somerset Maugham's stories were anthologized in three films: QUARTET, TRIO, and ENCORE in Great Britain, and the classic deja vu horror tale, DEAD OF NIGHT is also episodic.
Here the running thread is John Giddens, a wealthy man who is in bad health. Played by stage actor Richard Bennett, Giddens is angry at all the over-attention being given to him by his family and physicians. The latter don't seem to be making him better (but are collecting large fees from him), and the former are actually wondering how soon before he dies so they can read his will. He tells his lawyer that he's tired of all these leeches around him. He decides to give the money away, a million dollars at a time, to total strangers he picks out of the phone book.
IF I HAD A MILLION was, actually, the prototype of a popular television series of the 1950s called THE MILLIONAIRE. The idea of THE MILLIONAIRE is basically what is the plot of IF I HAD A MILLION: if somebody plopped a fortune into your hands, what would you do with it? The eight people vary in background and situations. Charlie Ruggles works in a store that sells china. He is very nervous, and his bullying boss and his henpecking wife (Mary Boland, of course), don't help matters. When he gets the check, he demonstrates what he thinks of fancy china and glass to his boss. Similarly downtrodden corporate clerk Charles Laughton is barely noticed by his bosses at his desk job. When he gets the check, and realizes what it means, he goes to the head of the company, and in one moment shows what he feels about being a downtrodden underling. Wynn Gibson uses the money to finally get the good night sleep her normal job has always denied her. W.C. Fields and Allison Skipworth hate road hogs, as their recently purchased new car was destroyed by one. They decide to buy nearly thirty cars to destroy as many of the road pests as possible.
George Raft is a professional forger, who thinks this check is the answer to his problems about avoiding arrest. The problem for him is, will anyone cash his perfectly good check. Similarly Gene Raymond is happy to have the money - you see he is on death row, and with the check he can now mount the appeal he needs for a new trial (or can he?).
Gary Cooper is a slick soldier who knows all the angles. He and his two buddies figure the check is a phony joke, and they pass it off on a cook they owe money to for hamburgers they charged. Later their laughs disappear when they realize they gave the cook too much of a tip. And best is last: May Robson as an independent old lady who will not put up with the tyranny in an old age home. She not only uses the money to restore the spirit to her fellow old age victims, but she even manages to restore spirit (in the end) to her new friend, Richard Bennett.
The film was not all comic - the sequences with Raft and Raymond are actually tragic, and Gibson's success is after a lifetime of unhealthy activity (one hopes her health is good). But it was such a wide variety of stories and reactions to sudden wealth that the film remains a wonderful film experience.
"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. (***)