Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Millionaire (1931)

Director: John G. Adolfi

Starring: George Arliss, Florence Arliss, David Manners, Evalyn Knapp, James Cagney, Bramwell Fletcher, Noah Beery

More info: IMDb

Plot: Automaker James Alden is told to retire by his doctors and does so in deference to his wife Laura and daughter 'Babs.' He is not only bored after six months, but is told by a life insurance salesman that retired men are bad risks. So James secretly responds to an ad in the newspaper about a garage being for sale, but he (using the alias Charlie Miller) buys only half of the garage, since the other half was already sold to Bill Merrick, who becomes his partner. The ex-owner, Peterson, was dishonest in not revealing he was opening a new gas station near the new highway a mile down the road where most of the traffic will be. Not willing to be slickered by anybody, Charlie and Bill buy and elegantly rebuild a decrepit building across the street from Peterson's new station and compete handily with the charlatan. James uses a pretense to get away every day, but wonders how long he can keep up his double life.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Nah, I'll just watch the Cagney clip instead.

I've got two things to say (mostly). This is a pretty good flick. I dug it. It's got moments of humor but it's more of a light drama with no real drama. It's one of those kinds of film. You won't find yourself laughing your ass off but then you're not asked to get too invested with these thin characters. It's "cute". I dislike that term but I can't find anything that better suits it.

The other thing is JAME CAGNEY IS THE MAN!!! He's only in the film for a few minutes (see the above clip - that's all he's got) but he's such a whirlwind of an actor in those few minutes. What energy! Wow. He's fantastic. Gee, it sure would have been swell to have met him. I'm not a celebrity hound and there are few actors that I would like to have met but he's tops on the list. He brought so much to every role, something you just don't see from anyone else. I need to control myself from gushing on every Cagney picture but he consistently brings something to the table that no one else could. His performance in this film exemplifies why he's my favorite actor. He had 'it' and in spades.

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