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If I Had a Million (1932)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  2 December 1932 (USA)
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,084 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 6 critic

A dying tycoon gives million-dollar windfalls to eight people picked from the city directory.

Directors:

(uncredited) , (uncredited) , 6 more credits »

Writers:

(based on a story by) (as Robert D. Andrews) , , 24 more credits »
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Title: If I Had a Million (1932)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Steve Gallagher
...
Phineas V. Lambert
...
Eddie Jackson
Jack Oakie ...
Private Mulligan
Richard Bennett ...
John Glidden
...
Henry Peabody (as Charlie Ruggles)
Alison Skipworth ...
Emily La Rue
...
Rollo La Rue
...
Mrs. Peabody
...
Private O'Brien
...
Mrs. Mary Walker
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Storyline

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. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 December 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

China Shop  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (USA) (DVD release)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Private Mulligan tells Zeb "I'd gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today", which is a phrase made famous by the character, J. Wellington Wimpy (generally referred to as Wimpy), from the 'Popeye' comic strip. See more »

Goofs

The La Rues purchase 9 vehicles from the used car lot and drive out in one car followed by 8 other vehicles. At the end of the day when they are down to one car, they only pay off 6 drivers. See more »

Quotes

John Glidden: 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.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Woman of Tokyo (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
(uncredited)
Traditional Negro spiritual
Sung by Clarence Muse
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
One chance in a million
24 October 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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.


16 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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