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If I Had a Million (1932)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama | 22 February 1933 (Sweden)
A dying tycoon gives million-dollar windfalls to eight people picked from the city directory.

Directors:

James Cruze (uncredited), H. Bruce Humberstone (uncredited) | 6 more credits »

Writers:

Robert Hardy Andrews (based on a story by) (as Robert D. Andrews), Claude Binyon | 14 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Gary Cooper ... Steve Gallagher
Charles Laughton ... Phineas V. Lambert
George Raft ... Eddie Jackson
Jack Oakie ... Private Mulligan
Richard Bennett ... John Glidden
Charles Ruggles ... Henry Peabody (as Charlie Ruggles)
Alison Skipworth ... Emily La Rue
W.C. Fields ... Rollo La Rue
Mary Boland ... Mrs. Peabody
Roscoe Karns ... Private O'Brien
May Robson ... 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:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 February 1933 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

The Forger See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (USA) (DVD release)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Three sequences intended for the movie were not in the final print: "The Pheeneys" with Cary Grant, Richard Arlen and Miriam Hopkins, "The Man Who Drops Dead" by Oliver H.P. Garrett, directed by Thornton Freeland with Tallulah Bankhead, and Clive Brook, and "The Randall Marshalls" with Sylvia Sidney, Carole Lombard, Randolph Scott and Fredric March, and directed by Lothar Mendes. It is not known if the first two segments were filmed and dropped or simply not filmed. The last sequence was partially filmed, but dropped because March would not participate in retakes without salary. 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

Violet Smith: All right, wise guy, what's the gag?
See more »

Alternate Versions

In England, the raspberry sound that Phineas V. Lambert makes was changed to a whistle. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: W.C. Fields (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweet Genevieve
(1869) (uncredited)
Music by Henry Tucker
Lyrics by George Cooper
Played as dance music at the Idylwood home
Also sung a cappella by Richard Bennett
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Who wants to be a millionaire?
9 March 2001 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

"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. (***)


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