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Wealthy Samuel Fulton is getting older and has no family of his own. He decides to leave his estate to the family of his first love, who turned down his marriage proposal years ago because he was poor. But he wants to test the family before leaving his money to them. He takes a room in their home and a job in the father's shop. He anonymously grants them $100,000. Harriet Blaisdell moves the family into a mansion and makes plans to marry her daughter Millicent off to a socialite rather than her soda jerk boyfriend Dan. The money goes to their heads, and they soon find themselves broke, back in their old house, and back to their old lives. Father back in his shop, Millicent engaged to Dan, and everyone seemingly much happier. Hoping they learned their lesson, Fulton takes his leave of the family. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
The title "Has Anybody Seen My Gal?" comes from a popular song of the 1920s, and presumably it was slapped on this non-musical movie to let people know when the story is supposed to be taking place. That was a silly idea, but the movie itself is charming. Charles Coburn plays the world's richest man, an elderly recluse whose face is known to virtually no one. (Bear in mind that this movie was made before tycoon Howard Hughes became legendary for his secretive ways.) The rich man travels incognito to the small town where he spent much of his youth. There he becomes the anonymous benefactor of a family that played an early role in his success, though none of its members have any idea of their link to him. He works as a seemingly down-on-his-luck soda jerk in the town, watching up close how his mysterious checks change the lives of people in this ordinary, close-knit family. It's not always a pretty sight, but it does teach a lesson, not just to them but to him. There's a Christmastime angle that isn't absolutely essential to the plot, but it did point out to me this film's similarity to another bittersweet fantasy, Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life." If you want a movie that's heartwarming and entertaining and has a moral, this is a good choice. Try it for Christmas.
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