Mr. Billion is a 1977 film directed by Jonathan Kaplan.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jonathan Kaplan|
|Music by||Dave Grusin|
|Edited by||O. Nicholas Brown|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$1,300,000 (rentals)|
Guido Falcone (Terence Hill), an easygoing Italian mechanic, is heir to a billion-dollar inheritance after his uncle dies in a freak accident. In order to claim his inheritance, he must reach San Francisco within twenty days to sign a document. His uncle's greedy assistant John Cutler (Jackie Gleason) wants the money for himself, and hires a female detective (Valerie Perrine) to prevent him from reaching his goal.
The film was the idea of Dino de Laurentiis, who wanted to introduce Terence Hill, at that time one of the biggest movie stars in Europe, to American audiences. He signed director Jonathan Kaplan, just coming off the successful White Line Fever.
Kaplan says production was difficult - he wanted to cast Lily Tomlin but the studio insisted on Valerie Perrine. Shooting took place in Italy. Kaplan says the highlight was working with Jackie Gleason; despite his drinking problem, Kaplan says he could sober up Gleason by doing old routines from The Honeymooners and getting laughs from the crew.
Mr. Billion was a major financial flop and Kaplan calls it the biggest failure of his career. In a retrospective review, the critic Keith Bailey called it "yet another case of Hollywood bringing a foreign actor in, and getting him to do different material than what made him famous in the first place".
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p258
- Solomon, pg 233.
- Jonathan Kaplan on Mr. Billion at Trailers From Hell