Brewster's Millions (1945 film)

Brewster's Millions (1945) is one of a number of film adaptations of the 1902 novel of the same title by George Barr McCutcheon and the subsequent 1906 smash-hit play adaptation by Byron Ongley and Winchell Smith. In the novel, the hero is a stockbroker; in this version, Brewster is a returning soldier.

Brewster's Millions
Brewster's Millions FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed byAllan Dwan
Produced byEdward Small
Written bySig Herzig
Wilkie C. Mahoney
Winchell Smith
Based onBrewster's Millions
1902 novel
by George Barr McCutcheon and 1906 play by Byron Ongley and Winchell Smith
StarringDennis O'Keefe
Helen Walker
June Havoc
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson
Music byHugo Friedhofer
CinematographyCharles Lawton Jr.
Edited byRichard Heermance
Grant Whytock
Edward Small Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • April 7, 1945 (1945-04-07)
Running time
79 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$750,000 (est.)[1]

Louis Forbes was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture.

Other film versions are: Brewster's Millions (1914) starring Edward Abeles; Brewster's Millions (1921) starring Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle; Miss Brewster's Millions (1926) starring Bebe Daniels; Brewster's Millions (1935) starring Jack Buchanan; Brewster's Millions (1985) starring Richard Pryor.


Montague L. Brewster, a newly discharged American soldier back from fighting in Europe during World War II, rushes home in New York City to marry his sweetheart, Peggy Gray. However, he has to postpone the wedding after he learns of a strange windfall.

His deceased uncle has left him $8 million, but he can inherit the money only if he can spend a million of it before his 30th birthday, October 13, 1944, only two months away, without keeping any assets. The lawyer explains that Brewster's uncle hoped it would make him so sick of spending that the rest of the fortune would not be wasted. The conditions include not telling anyone what he is doing. Brewster reluctantly agrees.

He sets up his own investment company, Brewster & Company, and hires his wartime buddies Hacky Smith and Noppy Harrison as vice presidents and Peggy as his private secretary. However, despite his best efforts, most of his schemes to lose money become profitable.

Worse, Peggy becomes jealous of Brewster spending a great deal of time with first socialite Barbara Drew, then showgirl Trixie Summers, even though he is only using them to help squander the million. Smith and Harrison (thinking that Brewster has gone crazy), begin to thwart his schemes. At the same time, Peggy breaks up with Brewster, but her wise mother persuades her to go on a costly cruise with him and the cast of a failed play he financed after Smith and Harrison close it down.

During the cruise, Smith and Harrison stage a rebellion by confining Brewster to his quarters and ordering Brewster's chartered yacht turned around to return to New York. When the yacht is disabled by a leftover U-boat mine, he escapes and goes to the bridge to order the captain to radio for help. Brewster learns that getting a tow from a passing Brazilian freighter to a nearby Florida port will cost him a huge salvage fee of $450,000. He becomes jubilant, realizing that the fee, the cost of the cruise and the losses from the failed stage play will use up his million dollars.

Several days later, as the deadline approaches, Brewster is back in New York at Peggy's house with the receipts of his spending sprees, thinking he has met his goal, only to have his friends present him with $40,012 that they have recovered from his failed ventures. Luckily, he is able to get rid of the money by paying the executor's fee, an old $10 debt, and $2 for a cab fare, just before time runs out. Having secured his inheritance, Brewster then takes Peggy out, saying that they have to go downtown to the nearest justice of the peace to get married right away. On the way out the door, he is confronted by a door-to-door salesman. The salesman tries to sell an item for two cents more than it costs in a store. For this reason, Brewster throws him out.


Lobby card


Edward Small originally wanted to film another farce, Are You a Mason? and bought the rights off Paramount in 1942 intending to make a vehicle for Jack Benny. However, there was confusion over European rights so he decided to adapt Brewster's Millions instead.[2] He bought the rights in June 1944.[3]

Garry Moore was originally cast but was replaced after one day of filming by Auer.[4]


Time Out London described it as "no masterpiece but really quite inventive".[5]

The film was banned in Memphis, Tennessee, because the character of the African-American servant portrayed by Eddie "Rochester" Anderson was treated too well.[6][7]


Small remade the film in 1961 as Three on a Spree. In 1970 he announced he wanted to make a TV series based on the film but it did not result.[8]

Lawrence Gordon, Gene Levy, and Joel Silver remade Brewster's Millions in 1985 starring Richard Pryor and John Candy.


  1. ^ "Indies $70,000,000 Pix Output". Variety: 3. 3 November 1944. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  2. ^ Fred Stanley (25 June 1944). "Hollywood Awakens to the Shorts: One and Two Reel Films Regaining Popularity -- Love Wins as Usual". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Brewster's Millions". The Christian Science Monitor. June 19, 1944.
  4. ^ Edwin Schallert (September 1, 1944). "Andy Russell Touted as Mexico's Sinatra: Bing Crosby Will Fill Guest-Star Spot in Filmization of 'Duffy's Tavern'". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "Brewster's Millions". Time Out London.
  6. ^ "Brewster's Millions (1945)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 27, 2019.
  7. ^ On-air comment by Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies
  8. ^ Betty Martin (May 22, 1970). "Cloris Leachman Signs Pact". Los Angeles Times.

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