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A Million to One (1937)

Approved | | Action, Drama, Romance | 3 March 1937 (USA)
John Kent (Monte Blue') wins the Olympic decathlon but is disqualified on a charge of professionalism. William Stevens (Kenneth Harlan), the second-place finisher, is awarded the title and ... See full summary »



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Directors: Edward H. Griffith, George Cukor
Stars: Joan Crawford, Robert Montgomery, Charles Ruggles


Complete credited cast:
Johnny Kent (as Herman Brix)
Duke Hale
John Kent, Sr.
William Stevens
Suzanne Kaaren ...
Pat Stanley
Joey O'Brien ...
Joy Healy ...
Ben Hall ...


John Kent (Monte Blue') wins the Olympic decathlon but is disqualified on a charge of professionalism. William Stevens (Kenneth Harlan), the second-place finisher, is awarded the title and trophies. Six years later Kent is running a moving truck for a living and training his young son Johnny (Bruce Bennett) to become an athlete. Chance brings about a meeting between Ken and Stevens, now a prosperous business man, with a little daughter, Joan (Joan Fontaine), who makes friends with young Johnny. As the years pass, the grown-up Johnny has developed to where he stands a chance of becoming an Olympic athlete and is in love with Joan. Mr. Stevens also wants to see Johnny succeed, and is annoyed that his attention to Joan may interfere with his training. Rich girl Patricia Stanley (Suzanne Kaaren) is also interested in Johnny, a proceeding which suits wealthy young athlete Duke Hale (Reed Howes), who is Johnny's main rival in sports and for Joan. Stevens, in an effort to repay the elder ... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Action | Drama | Romance | Sport


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

3 March 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Olympic Champ  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film received its earliest documented telecast in Los Angeles Friday 25 December 1948 on KFI-TV (Channel 9). See more »

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User Reviews

A chance to see Joan before she underwent a thorough makeover.
22 January 2017 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

I find it interesting seeing films by future stars and occasionally you can't even tell it's them! Take, for example, Ida Lupino and Joan Fontaine. Both were born and raised abroad and had decidedly non-American accents in their early films. Moreover, they underwent HUGE makeovers--with new hair styles, makeup...everything. Both these women also have an odd connection--two of their earliest films were made with American Olympians. In "Search for Beauty", Ida is cast along side Buster Crabbe (winner of three medals for swimming, two of which were golds) and here in "A Million to One" Joan is cast along side Herman Brix (Bruce Bennett) who won Olympic silver for the shot-put. While both are very cheap films and their acting isn't particularly distinguished, both are must-sees for old movie buffs.

This film begins at the 1912 Olympics. John Kent won the Decathalon--only to have it soon stripped away on a technicality*. Then, John uses his energy to raise his son, Johnny (Herman Brix), to eventually be an Olympic decathletes as well. Unfortunately, during his training, he meets Joan (Joan Fontaine) and the father is worried she'll be a distraction and ruin Johnny's chances for Olympic gold.

This film was distributed by Puritan Pictures which means that the picture is about as low budget and cheap as can be. Several scenes were extremely poor acted--so poor that you marvel that they didn't bother re-filming these scenes. One example is the guy playing the newspaper editor, as he could barely deliver his lines and honestly sounds like a middle schooler trying to act! Another is the fight scene as both look completely inept and it is laughably done. A consultant should have been used as the pair look like they are dancing more than fighting! The movie also lacks incidental music and is curiously quiet at times. Clearly this film is a B---and a very low budgeted and cheaply assembled one.

So despite these problems, is the film any good? Not especially. Brix and Fontaine were not yet polished actors and the script is rather pedestrian. It's rarely terrible but also rarely very good. But still, worth watching so you can see Joan with her much more British accent and odd pre-makeover look. It's hard to imagine looking at her that only a few years later she'd win the Oscar for Best Actress!

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