Friday, August 16, 2013

Brewster's Millions (Allan Dwan, 1945)

George Barr McCutcheon’s old comic chestnut is given a fresh rendering in this 1945 version directed by Allan Dwan. Monty Brewster (Dennis O’Keefe) returns home from the service with plans to marry his sweetheart (Helen Walker), but his transition to civilian life is thrown into chaos when he finds out he stands to inherit 8 million dollars – provided he can spend a million dollars in two months and have absolutely nothing to show for it. Monty soon finds that a million is not as easy to blow through as he thought, and the money starts to have unexpected consequences.

Dwan keeps the comic proceedings moving at a frenetic pace, which at times seems to move as fast as HIS GIRL FRIDAY. The real fun comes in watching Brewster’s various spending schemes constantly go awry in unexpected ways. Dennis O’Keefe holds the zaniness together with his solid leading performance, sustaining a high level of nervous comic energy and anxiety, and ably supported by the likes of Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, John Litel, Joe Sawyer and Mischa Auer. Allan Dwan demonstrates his versatility with this fast and funny farce that has been filmed probably a half dozen times over the years with everyone from Fatty Arbuckle to John Candy.

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