In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb mv5bnda4ymmwmgity2mzos00odjilthmzdetyza5ngu4zjq5yjhixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjk5nda3otk . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 674 1000 al

Geostorm

God knows how many millions of dollars and hours of manpower went into making and remaking Geostorm but it turns out to have been all…

Thumb same kind of different as me

Same Kind of Different as Me

It can be hard to disagree with the heart and events of this true tale, except for when the movie reveals itself to be mighty…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

Hot Millions

  |  

Today I would like to bow to another critic for my opening thought. Writing about "Hot Millions" in the New Republic, Stanley Kauffmann observed that it didn't make him laugh out loud, but at the end of the film he realized he'd been smiling for nearly two hours. That says it very well: "Hot Millions," which is not a hilarious comedy, is a pleasant, warm one.

The warmth comes because the characters are developed rather more than is usually the case in movies about (a) embezzlers or (b) eccentrics. The British comedy tradition accounts for these two genres quite completely; eccentrics are usually Terry-Thomas whistling through the gap in his teeth, and embezzlers usually try for a sort of efficient anonymity.

Advertisement

"Hot Millions" abandons convention. Peter Ustinov is the embezzler, a bachelor, usually preoccupied, given to talking to himself and letting the sentences trail off into clearing of the throat. He bluffs his way into a private club, encourages a computer expert (Robert Morley) to hunt moths in South America and masquerades as Morley to infiltrate a large computer operation.

The idea is to convince the computer to mail Ustinov millions of pounds. The problem is to program the computer after getting past its built-in safeguards. After long nights spent studying the computer manual, Ustinov finally succeeds: a victory that will give new heart to my friends at Honeywell who dream of the good life in Rio.

The company is run by a nervous American executive (Karl Malden) and his paranoid assistant (Bob Newhart). Ustinov sails right past them with that peculiar British self-assurance that intimidates Americans automatically. But he runs afoul of the girl who lives upstairs in his boarding house (Maggie Smith).

She is equally incompetent as a secretary, a bus conductor, a theater usher, and a meter maid. They are both lonely, and one night Miss Smith invites Ustinov to her apartment by accident. He begins to play the piano, and it develops that she plays the flute. They fall into a hesitant duet (one of the film's most charming scenes), and she proposes marriage.

This is not, I suppose, a great comedy. But Ustinov and Miss Smith act with a sort of natural appeal, and there are moments you will enjoy very much. Especially recommended for computer programmers, their accomplices and their molls.

Popular Blog Posts

The Fall of Toxic Masculinity and the Rise of Feminine Consciousness

A special edition of Thumbnails detailing the recent sexual harassment cases in the entertainment and tech industries...

"Blade Runner" vs. "Blade Runner 2049"

A Great Movie is hidden somewhere within "Blade Runner" and "Blade Runner 2049."

Oscars Could Be Facing Dearth of Diversity Yet Again

A column on the lack of diversity in this year's potential Oscar nominees.

Tears of a Machine: The Humanity of Luv in "Blade Runner 2049"

No character in “Blade Runner 2049” is more relatably human than Luv.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus