If I Had a Million

Screening on Film
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch, et al.
With Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton, George Raft.
US, 1932, 35mm, black & white, 83 min.
Print source: Universal

The whole production overseen by Lubitsch, this omnibus film features an array of talent both behind and before the camera. Using the framing device of a dying millionaire who selects random people from the phone book to benefit from his fortune, the film presents each of their stories—many of which take on social and economic inequality either in comic or dramatic terms. In Lubitsch’s segment, “The Clerk” with Charles Laughton, the director covers these concerns precisely and succinctly. Attacking several systematic social ills in only two minutes, Lubitsch’s nearly silent response cuts to the chase with visual eloquence to deliver its point. Other highlights include the  “Road Hog” episode—directed by Norman Taurog and written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz—featuring rising star W.C. Fields and Alison Skipworth as good-natured menaces of the road, and Stephen Roberts’ unexpectedly poignant “Violet”—also penned by Mankiewicz—in which a prostitute is one of the millionaire’s beneficiaries.

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That Certain Feeling... The Touch of Ernst Lubitsch

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