Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


BREWSTER'S MILLIONS (1945). Director: Allan Dwan.

"Turkey?! If it had kept on running we'd have had to pay the actors off in cranberries!"

Monty Brewster (Dennis O'Keefe, pictured) comes home to his girl Peggy (Helen Walker) from the war and learns that he has inherited 8 million dollars from an uncle. But the will has a (frankly ridiculous and possibly unenforceable) stipulation: Monty must spend a million dollars before his thirtieth birthday (about two months), be left with absolutely no assets (which means he can't buy such things as jets and yachts) or he will forfeit all the rest of the money (he can only give 5% to charity). There doesn't seem to be any reason why he can't simply give $100,000 to ten friends, but instead he sets up a business, rents expensive offices, pays inflated salaries -- and keeps making money no matter how hard he tries not to. The old old idea (this was filmed several times before) is a cute one, but this version, despite all the running around and mugging and so on, just seems lifeless, and it's never very funny. Part of the problem is that Dennis O'Keefe is not exactly a skilled comedian a la Bob Hope, although he does do his best. Helen Walker, who was excellent as the sinister Lilith in Nightmare Alley, makes a competent if unamusing leading lady. The supporting cast does their best, but a few genuinely amusing lines are sort of thrown away and lost in the general hysteria/tedium. Eddie "Rochester" Anderson adds to the limited fun.

Verdict: Highly forgettable. *1/2.


Ray Faiola said...

Couldn't disagree more. BREWSTER'S MILLIONS was one of a handful of comedies made by Edward Small and directed by Allan Dwan that gave Dennis O'Keefe an opportunity at full frontal farce. He was probably the premier farceur of the 40's. Even though most comedies play best with an audience, even I was doubled over in the scene where all his sure-losers are coming up winners, topped off by a come-from-7 behinds win of a toothless nag at 40 to 1. Super supporting cast including a charmingly comic turn by Eddie Anderson.

It moves too fast for the audience to ask "Huh?" and that's just what a good farce should do. But this picture has so many great throwaways you have to back to pick them up.


William said...

Thanks for your comments, Ray. This one just didn't work for me, but I'm glad you got a kick out of it. O'Keefe did appear in quite a few comedies during this period. I'm not saying he was bad, just that I found others funnier.

Best, Bill