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Thursday, July 11, 2013

BREWSTER'S MILLIONS (1945)

This oft-filmed farce, the one about a guy who has to quickly spend a million bucks to inherit another seven, has served ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Jack Buchanan, Richard Pryor(!), and here, Dennis O’Keefe. (Bonus posters below.) Farce is a tough nut to crack on film since the misunderstandings that lead to all the comic confusion could usually be explained in two or three lines of honest dialogue. Avoiding that discussion is half the battle, but can wind up being more annoying than comic. This one puts the structural gimmick right in the dead man’s will, holding Brewster to a pact of silence about why he’s got to spend, spend, spend. Smart move. Allan Dwan helms in a bright, energetic & mercifully fast manner, keeping his attractive cast on their toes and neatly tying scenes together with long horizontal tracking shots that cover a lot of territory. He gets some really strong supporting perfs out of players like Mischa Auer & June Havoc, and delightful ones from leads Helen Walker & particularly Dennis O’Keefe who shows some real comedy chops delivering a four-page diatribe in a single take. You don’t expect this much good, dumb fun out of a little B-list indie firm (Edward Small Productions); and you also don’t expect to find the kind of sharp looking transfer you get on this Hen’s Tooth DVD.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Was Dennis O’Keefe Hollywood’s tallest leading man? It’s hard to find his exact measurements, but he sure towers over the 6'2" Mischa Auer.

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