Friday, September 25, 2009


Dennis O'Keefe comes home from the war to find out that a rich uncle has left him a lot of money, with an odd stipulation: he gets a million dollars right away but has to spend it all in two months’ time and have no assets left. If he does that, he gets another seven million. The whole point is supposedly to make O'Keefe understand the value of money by making him sick of spending it. He can only give 5% to charity. And, oh yeah, he can't tell anyone what’s going on. And, oh yeah, he can't get married during that time. Naturally, his fiancĂ©e (Helen Walker) isn’t happy because they were supposed to get married right away. And his family and friends are worried when O'Keefe sets up a company and starts to spend money wastefully. Unfortunately, his crazy business decisions start making him more money so he has to start spending even more wastefully.

This old chestnut seems to have a clever plot device, but it's one of those you can’t think too much about because the loopholes become too obvious: Why can't he tell anyone? Why can't he get married? Hell, why doesn't he just admit failure, especially when the business starts making money, and keep the million? Happily, the film plays out at a breakneck speed and O'Keefe makes a very likable hero. The supporting cast of this independent B-movie is fairly lackluster, except for Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson as O'Keefe’s valet. There's Gail Patrick as a socialite who makes Walker jealous, June Havoc as a chorus girl, and Mischa Auer as a Broadway producer in whose show O'Keefe puts money; other familiar faces include John Litel, Neil Hamilton, and Joe Sawyer. This was remade in the 80's with Richard Pryor and John Candy, but I don't think I could sit through another go-round of this silly plot. [TCM]

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