If I had a million

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
German title If I had a million
Original title If I had a million
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1932
length 88 minutes
Director in alphabetical order: James Cruze ,
H. Bruce Humberstone ,
Ernst Lubitsch ,
Norman Z. McLeod ,
Lothar Mendes ,
Stephen Roberts ,
William A. Seiter ,
Norman Taurog .
script in alphabetical order: Claude Binyon ,
Whitney Bolton ,
Malcolm Stuart Boylan , John Bright ,
Sidney Buchman ,
Lester Cole ,
Isabel Dawn ,
Boyce DeGaw ,
Oliver HP Garrett ,
Harvey Gates ,
Ernst Lubitsch,
Lawton Mackall ,
Joseph L. Mankiewicz ,
William Slavens McNutt ,
Robert Sparks
production Ernst Lubitsch,
Emanuel Cohen ,
Benjamin Glazer ,
Louis D. Lighton for Paramount Pictures
music John Leipold
camera Harry Fischbeck ,
Charles Edgar Schoenbaum ,
Gilbert Warrenton ,
Alvin Wyckoff
cut LeRoy Stone

Framework story (foreplay)

The china shop

Violet, prostitute

The check forger

Traffic hooligans

The death row

The employee

The three marine infantrymen

The grandmother

If I Had a Million is an American feature film consisting of eight individual episodes from 1932. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch , Norman Taurog , Stephen Roberts , Norman Z. McLeod , James Cruze , William A. Seiter and H. Bruce Humberstone . The novel Windfall: A Novel about Ten Million Dollars by Robert Hardy Andrews , published in 1930, served as a template .


The terminally ill, eccentric millionaire and industrialist John Glidden gives eight people a million dollars each because he does not want to leave his inheritance to his ungrateful and useless relatives. Instead, he would rather find out how the recipients of the presents, whose names he picked out from the telephone book, react and what they will do with the money. When he first tapped the name John D. Rockefeller , at that time (1932) one of the richest men in the world, it was, as expected, ignored immediately (Norman Taurog directed the framework). In the following, the fates of the new millionaires are examined in individual episodes that have no connection with the overriding framework story:

The china shop

Henry Peabody is an older, sedate gentleman who is just as dissatisfied with his life as he is with his work. He took it from the accountant to the seller in a china shop. When his expected "raise" amounts to a wage deduction, he smashes the fragile store goods. Even his nagging wife at home is of no help to him. Gliddens check in the millions comes in handy. Old Henry goes back to the shop one more time and delights in smashing all of the china with gusto.

This episode was directed by Norman Z. McLeod .


For the prostitute Violet Smith, who usually waits for customers in a bar, everything suddenly changes when she holds the cashier's check issued by Glidden in her hand. She lets suitors be suitors and books the most expensive hotel suite she can find on the fly. Then she falls asleep there, all alone.

This episode was directed by Stephen Roberts .

The forger

Eddie Jackson is a crook as he is in the book. One day when he tries to tap cash with a bad check, he just manages to avoid being arrested again. Since he has a long register of sins, the next expected prison sentence would certainly be life. When he suddenly holds Gliddens (covered) million check in his hand, Eddie is at first delighted. With his criminal record and his vita as a check fraudster, he no longer dares to go into a bank and cash the check. Soon everything in Eddie's head is spinning in circles. Afraid of being arrested, he has to leave the city and is so tired that he lacks the strength to do so himself. To get at least some sleep, Eddie pushes a security guard to check in his hand and asks in return for a 10-cent coin to the shabbiest dump to find peace. The accommodation operator secretly calls the police because he thinks the new guest is crazy. Then he lights a cigar with relish with the million dollar check believed to be a fake.

This episode was directed by H. Bruce Humberstone .

Traffic hooligans

The former vaudeville artist Emily La Rue has led a happy life since she ran a small tea house with her former stage partner Rollo. There is only one thing they are missing, a new car. And that's exactly what is being delivered today. As soon as he got in to take a spin , a traffic hooligan drives into the middle of the beautiful vehicle and wrecks it when he overlooks a stop sign. Deeply saddened, Emil returns to her tea house, where she meets old Glidden. He finds that she is an ideal recipient for his gift experiment. Emily then has a bizarre idea. She now purchases eight vehicles, all of them used cars, and hires eight chauffeurs for them. All of them drive off at the same time and form a long queue on a busy road. Promptly you come across a reckless road user again. Now is the time for vengeance. Emily and Rollo immediately chase the traffic hooligan and deliberately crash their vehicle into his car. Then they go into one of the other vehicles and repeat this action until none of their cars are intact. At the end of the busy day, Emily decides to buy another new vehicle. And again she has bad luck: a truck also wrecks this car in a rear-end collision. But Emily doesn't care; she tells Rollo that she had a great day.

This episode was directed by Norman Z. McLeod.

The death row

In a state prison, John Wallace is waiting for his death sentence to be carried out. Once he had committed a serious robbery and killed a person in the process. Wallace is to be sent to the electric chair. There is a tearful farewell to his wife Mary, then he receives an unexpected visit from Mr. Glidden. He wants to give a million dollars to Wallace, who is doomed like himself. For John, this is the last straw he clings to. He believes that the new wealth could somehow save him and again protests against the impending execution. But it's too late, Wallace is executed a little later.

This episode was directed by James Cruze .

The employee

Phineas V. Lambert is the ideal employee, as every boss loves him: humble, modest and helpful almost to the point of submission. When he too received a million dollars from the terminally ill Glidden, Lambert first carefully assured himself that this generous donation was not a joke. Then he darts up the stairs to the Bel Etage, where the boss sits, past the offices of secretaries and their assistants, and finally knocks on the boss's door. When the head of the company calls him in, he makes bubbling lips movements and the associated noises and thus clearly communicates to his top manager what he thinks of him and the whole store: namely nothing at all. Lambert leaves, deeply satisfied.

This episode was directed by Ernst Lubitsch .

The three marine infantrymen

While looking for someone else to give him a present, Glidden comes across US Marine Steve Gallagher, who is currently imprisoned with his buddies Mulligan and O'Brien in military prison for allegedly beating his superior, a sergeant. Glidden thinks that Gallagher is ideal for his experiment, but at first he cannot really believe in this luck, as he assumes that it is an April Fool's joke. After the three infantrymen are free again, they first have a good meal. A good friend, the young waitress Marie, is already waiting for her in the small snack bar. Each of the three would love to invite the pretty one to the fair, but unfortunately everyone is bare. Everyone? Well, Gallagher remembers the check and sends the food stall owner Zeb, who he knows is nearsighted, to him, telling him that this is a $ 10 check and that he should cash it once, please. Then, with ten dollars in hand, he and Marie go to the fairground, but his two private buddies stick to the couple like two burdock. Then one of them, Private Mulligan, is embroiled in a real brawl, in which Gallagher and O'Brien promptly interfere. The end of the story: all three end up in the military prison again. The three of them are amazed when they see the smartly dressed Zeb getting out of a limousine through their bars, accompanied by Marie, who is also magnificently equipped.

This episode was directed by William A. Seiter .

The grandmother

Grandmother Mary Walker is the last person to benefit from Richard Gliddens' multi-million dollar charity. The unhappy, life-marked and disappointed old lady lives in a retirement home that is run with a hard hand by Mrs. Garvey - to the displeasure of the clever Mary, who defends herself against the constant tutelage as well as she can. With the money she received, Mary sees her last opportunity to change things for the better. And so she has a great idea. She pays Mrs. Garvey and the other home workers to just sit in the rocking chairs and not bother when she, Mary, and the other residents really go for it and dance until dawn at a party with the older men . This old lady, whom life seems to have returned to, is like a fountain of youth for John Glidden. He chooses to spend the rest of his life by her side.

This episode was directed by Stephen Roberts.

Production notes

The eight-episode film celebrated its world premiere on November 16, 1932 in New York City . The German premiere of Wenn I Had a Million was on October 20, 1933.

The future Hollywood director Edward Dmytryk got one of his first film jobs here as an assistant editor.

The film is listed in most databases with a showing time of 88 minutes. The currently available versions have a duration of 86 minutes (83 minutes on PAL DVD).


In the New York Times , star critic Mordaunt Hall dealt with the Lubitsch film. It said on December 3, 1932: “ With its various sequences staged by top directors," If I Had a Million "is an unusually good entertainment that was worked out with true imagination and originality. (...) The Lubitsch deposit is their capital (...) WC Fields and Alison Skipworth are having a great time when, after receiving the million, they really show it to traffic hooligans. This sketch has the greatest farce content and every driver will like it. (…) Most of these skits are based on ideas for short stories, and if one is to draw a conclusion, then the adventures of Mr. Glidden have been cleverly implemented. Mr. Bennett's portrayal of Gliddens is worthy of a talented actor, which is a compliment. Mr. Cooper, Mr. Ruggles, Mr. Fields, Alison Skipworth and May Robson are among those who can be counted among the assets of these highly welcomed films . "

Halliwell's Film Guide characterized the film as follows: “ Interesting, outdated, multi-part comedy drama mainly remembered for the short sequence of Laughton poking his boss and Fields chasing traffic hooligans. As a piece of entertainment, it is inconsistent, with flaws in terms of overall stylistic confidence. "

The Movie & Video Guide wrote of the film: " All of the episodes are good, but the most famous are Laughton's turnaround and Fields' revenge on traffic hooligans ."

" Not uninteresting but, in retrospect, too patchy ... the cinematic porridge is naturally crammed with a variety of spices ."

The Protestant film observer drew the following conclusion: “ The joy of many a delicious gag is spoiled by the mendacious realism and tragedy added to the film. Museum value only. "

Individual evidence

  1. all directors remained unnamed
  2. Although Mendes is also said to have directed it, it is not clear in which form he was involved in which episode
  3. Although Taurog is also said to have directed it, it is not clear in which form he was involved in which episode
  4. all cameramen remained anonymous
  5. If I Had a Million in the New York Times
  6. In the original: " With its various sequences directed by top-notch directors," If I Had a Million "is an unusually good entertainment worked out with true imagination and originality ... (...) The Lubitsch interlude is capital ... WC Fields and Alison Skipworth have a high old time getting even with road hogs after they get their million. It is a most farcical stretch, one which every driver of a car will appreciate. (...) There are in most of these sketches complete short-story ideas, and the summing up of the adventures of Mr. Glidden is adroitly done. Mr. Bennett's portrait of Glidden is worthy of this talented actor, which is compliment enough. Mr. Cooper, Mr. Ruggles, Mr. Fields, Alison Skipworth and May Robson are among those who add to the interest of this highly welcome pictorial show. "
  7. ^ Leslie Halliwell : Halliwell's Film Guide, Seventh Edition, New York 1989, p. 504
  8. In the original: “ Interesting, dated multi-part comedy drama remembered chiefly for the brief sequence in which Laughton blows a raspberry to his boss and Fields chases road hogs. As an entertainment it's patchy, lacking an overall style . "
  9. Leonard Maltin : Movie & Video Guide, 1996 edition, p. 617 f. In the original: " All episodes are good, but the most famos are Laughton's wormturning and Fields' revenge on road hogs ."
  10. In the original: "Not uninteresting but spotty in retrospect ... the cinematic porridge is naturally replete with a diversity of seasonings".
  11. Evangelical Press Association Munich, Review No. 555/1969

Web links