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The Millionaire (1931)

 |  Drama, Comedy  |  1 May 1931 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 221 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 4 critic

A millionaire automaker retires upon the advice of his doctor, but becomes so bored he buys half interest in a gas station and works it on the sly.

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(based on "Idle Hands"), (dialogue), 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Florence Arliss ...
Mrs. Laura Alden
David Manners ...
Evalyn Knapp ...
Barbara Alden
...
Schofield
Bramwell Fletcher ...
Carter Andrews
...
Peterson
Ivan F. Simpson ...
Davis (as Ivan Simpson)
J.C. Nugent ...
Dr. Harvey
Sam Hardy ...
McCoy
J. Farrell MacDonald ...
Dan Lewis
...
Ed Powers (as Charles Grapewin)
Charles E. Evans ...
The Gardener
...
Briggs
Edit

Storyline

Automaker James Alden is told to retire by his doctors and does so in deference to his wife Laura and daughter 'Babs.' He is not only bored after six months, but is told by a life insurance salesman that retired men are bad risks. So James secretly responds to an ad in the newspaper about a garage being for sale, but he (using the alias Charlie Miller) buys only half of the garage, since the other half was already sold to Bill Merrick, who becomes his partner. The ex-owner, Peterson, was dishonest in not revealing he was opening a new gas station near the new highway a mile down the road where most of the traffic will be. Not willing to be slickered by anybody, Charlie and Bill buy and elegantly rebuild a decrepit building across the street from Peterson's new station and compete handily with the charlatan. James uses a pretense to get away every day, but wonders how long he can keep up his double life. Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Comedy

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 May 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le millionnaire  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Brunswick Radios Used Exclusively)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The characters James Alden and his wife Laura are played by real husband and wife George Arliss and Florence Arliss. See more »

Connections

Version of The Ruling Passion (1922) See more »

Soundtracks

Auld Lang Syne
(uncredited)
Scottish traditional Music
Played in background when Alden retires
See more »

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User Reviews

 
good showcase for George Arliss
21 February 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

George Arliss's name was synonymous with "Great Acting" back in the early talking film era and he more or less lives up to the reputation herein, playing a Henry Ford-style auto magnate in failing health whose doctor insists that he retire and take it easy lest his heart give out. So he reluctantly but obediently moves to sunny California with his wife and daughter where he settles into a life of vice-free boredom. One day a cocky insurance salesman (played by the motor-mouthed James Cagney in an early supporting role) suggests that he would be happier if he bought a small business as a hobby just to keep the old juices flowing. Arliss finds the advice intriguing and responds to a newspaper ad offering half interest in a filling station. Posing as an ordinary investor under an assumed name, he purchases the half interest without hesitation from a suspicious seller (Noah Beery) and discovers his partner is a handsome young would-be architect (David Manners in one of his better efforts) biding his time until he can get his real career off the ground. Soon it becomes clear to both that Beery has swindled them, knowing that a new superhighway nearby would soon open and attract all vehicles away from the spot where their filling station was located. Using the business acumen he has accrued through the years, Arliss hatches a plan to purchase property across the street from the swindler's new filling station and drive him out of business with better service, better advertising and a more attractive establishment. Meanwhile, Arliss's daughter drives in for a fill-up and is recognized by Manners as the attractive girl he met briefly at a college dance a few years earlier. He falls head over heels in love with her and decides to marry her, little knowing she is the daughter of his partner. As this romantic subplot plays out, Arliss's health improves by degrees under the healthy stimulus of running a small business, even as he declines to swallow the medicines prescribed by his doctor. It's fun to watch Arliss play this lovable character who learns how to heal himself. It's a wise film indeed, demonstrating that care of the spirit is just as important as medicinal regimens. The whole thing moves along at a brisk pace. Cagney's brief bit is memorable in a "star is born" manner—the elegant old pro Arliss generously allowing the brash young actor to steal the scene. Arliss did a similar favor for young Bette Davis in THE MAN WHO PLAYED GOD a year later.


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