Cast & Crew
Eddie "rochester" Anderson
Soon after his discharge from the Army, New Yorker Montague "Monty" L. Brewster learns that his long-forgotten uncle, who made a fortune in Bolivian tin, has died and left him eight million dollars. The unemployed Monty, who is engaged to secretary Peggy Gray, is ecstatic over his good fortune, but learns from his uncle's executor, Swearengen Jones, that the will stipulates that he must spend one million dollars by noon on his thirtieth birthday in order to receive the balance of seven million. Even though his thirtieth birthday is only two months away and he knows that the one million dollars cannot be spent frivolously or given away, Monty is confident he can get the job done. When Jones informs him that he cannot marry during the sixty days and must swear a vow of secrecy regarding the will's terms, however, Monty begins to worry. Monty and Peggy had planned to marry immediately, and Peggy is confused by Monty's sudden request for a postponement. Peggy and Monty's two best Army buddies, Noppy Harrison and Hacky Smith, are also baffled by Monty's sudden wild, unwise spending, but agree to work at his new business, Brewster & Co. Within a week, Monty has spent $300,000 making seemingly bad investments, bankrolling a lavish party hosted by heiress Barbara Drew and paying his employees outrageously high salaries. His initial "successes" soon turn to disaster, however, when his bad investments start paying off and he learns that he has won a $25,000 radio contest. Monty is also in danger of losing Peggy, who is jealous of Barbara and angry over his spendthrift ways. Desperate, Monty decides to put $95,000 into a Broadway production, starring chorus girl Trixie Summers, and buys her a $30,000 fur coat as an investment. As hoped, the play is a flop, but Nopper and Hacky, taking matters into their own hands, close the show and lease the theater. When confronted by the show's angry performers, Monty decides to mount the production on board the expensive Drew family yacht and conduct a goodwill tour of East Coast naval bases. Monty then postpones his wedding yet again. Believing that Monty is interested in both Barbara and Trixie, Peggy returns his engagement ring and announces she is not going on the tour. On advice from her mother, however, Peggy changes her mind and joins Monty at the last minute. Peggy's suspicions are soon rekindled, however, when she spies her engagement ring, which Monty has learned is a potential asset, on Trixie's finger. After Peggy declares her intention to disembark in Florida, Monty orders the ship's captain to sail directly to the Caribbean. Nopper and Hacky, however, thwart Monty's scheme by convincing the captain to head back to New York. To make matters worse, the cast of the show announces that they are donating their services for the war effort. Monty's fortune appears lost until the yacht hits a floating mine, and Monty arranges for the Navy to tow the disabled boat for $400,000. Back in New York, on his thirtieth birthday, Monty, having finally spent the entire one million dollars, awaits Jones with his receipts. Moments before Jones is due to arrive, however, Nopper, Hacky, Trixie, Barbara and the Grays's servant Jackson insist on giving money to the now-broke Monty. Monty is $40,012 richer by the time Jones shows up, but as the clock starts to strike twelve, Monty gets the idea to pay Jones his executor's fee of $40,000. Still holding twelve dollars, Monty then pays off Jones's cab driver as the last chime sounds. All ends happily as Monty is awarded his seven million dollars, and he and Peggy reunite.
Eddie "rochester" Anderson
Edward P. Fitzgerald
Joseph I. Kane
Charles Lawton Jr.
Harold E. Mcghan
Best Music, Original or Comedy Series
Brewster's Millions (1945)
Other editions of this tale over the years include a 1914 version co-directed by Cecil B. De Mille (his first-ever directing credit), a 1921 Famous Players-Lasky version starring Fatty Arbuckle, a 1926 Paramount version entitled Miss Brewster's Millions starring Bebe Daniels and Warner Baxter, a 1935 British version starring Jack Buchanan, another British version in 1961 called Three on a Spree, and a 1985 Universal version starring Richard Pryor and John Candy. (Clearly we're due for yet another.)
The cause of all the fuss through the decades is simply a winning story that always seems to delight audiences. Director Allan Dwan himself called Brewster's Millions "one of the best pieces of material I ever had. The idea that a man - without being able to tell a living soul anything about it - has to spend a million dollars in a year and have absolutely nothing to show for it when he's done. And if he does it, he gets another seven million from his uncle's will. Now that sounds like the most simple thing on earth - I know it can be done - I've done it - but, you see, he had to legitimately spend that money and then have nothing to show for it - which is what's tough." (Peter Bogdanovich, Allan Dwan, The Last Pioneer)
Enacting this comic story in probably the best film version is an enjoyable cast led by Dennis O'Keefe and including Helen Walker, June Havoc, Gail Patrick and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson. Anderson's role created some problems in Tennessee. The Memphis film censorship board felt that the black actor's character had "too familiar a way about him" and that the movie overall depicted "too much social equality and racial mixture" for Tennessee audiences to handle.
Brewster's Millions received an Academy Award® nomination for Louis Forbes' musical score, though it should be noted there were a whopping 20 other nominees that year. The winner was Miklos Rozsa for Spellbound (1945).
The New York Times received the movie well, musing "there is something about this silly story that neither age doth wither nor custom stale. No doubt it's the fascinating business of throwing money away."
Producer: Edward Small
Director: Allan Dwan
Screenplay: Siegfried Herzig, Wilkie Mahoney, Charles Rodgers; Byron Ongley, Winchell Smith (play); George Barr McCutcheon (novel)
Cinematography: Charles Lawton
Art Direction: Joseph Sternad
Film Editing: Richard Heermance
Cast: Dennis O'Keefe (Monty Brewster), Helen Walker (Peggy Gray), June Havoc (Trixie Summers), Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson (Jackson), Gail Patrick (Barbara Drew), Mischa Auer (Michael Michaelovich), Nana Bryant (Mrs. Gray), John Litel (Swearengen Jones), Joe Sawyer (Hacky Smith), Neil Hamilton (Mr. Grant), Herbert Rudley (Nopper Harrison), Thurston Hall (Col. Drew).
by Jeremy Arnold
Brewster's Millions (1945)
Grant Whytock's onscreen credit reads: "Assistant to producer and supervising film editor." The picture includes a brief animated sequence. According to Hollywood Reporter news items, radio star Garry Moore was to make his screen debut in this picture, and Jimmy Durante, who appeared with Moore on his radio show, was to play a role as well. Moore was replaced by Mischa Auer in early September 1944. Hollywood Reporter news items list Sherry Hall as a cast member, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. In April 1945, Motion Picture Herald reported that the Memphis Board of Motion Picture Censors, headed by Lloyd T. Binford, had banned showings of the film on grounds that it was "inimical to the public welfare" because the servant character played by African-American actor Eddie "Rochester" Anderson had "too familiar a way about him." The Board complained that the picture presented "too much social equality and racial mixture" for Southern audiences, and expressed fear that the film would "encourage" racial problems. Lou Forbes received an Academy Award nomination in the Music (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) category.
George Barr McCutcheon's novel and Winchell Smith and Byron Ongley's play have been the source for four other films, all titled Brewster's Millions. In 1914, Jesse L. Lasky released the first silent version, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and Oscar C. Apfel, and starring Winifred Kingston and Edward Abeles (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.0477). A 1921 Paramount version was directed by Joseph Henabery and starred Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and Betty Ross Clark (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.0592). A British version, starring Jack Buchanan and Lili Damita, directed by Thornton Freeland, was released by United Artists in 1935 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.5294). In 1985, Walter Hill directed Richard Pryor and John Candy in Universal's version of the story.