One week ago at this time, I wanted to kick myself. I had somehow failed to notice that Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. was airing "If I Had A Million" on Sunday, Jan. 3 as part of a W.C. Fields tribute -- thereby not only depriving me of a chance to see it, but reminding readers it would air. (I hope many of you saw it, despite my failure to provide advice.)
Now, however, I feel a whole lot better. As it turns out, "If I Had A Million," a multi-episodic 1932 Paramount film that would have featured Carole Lombard had her segment not been scrapped (http://community.livejournal.com/carole_and_co/26161.html), can now be viewed on YouTube, albeit in eight parts (http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=14535BAC4840FF57&search_query=If+I+Had+A+Million). The person who put it up labeled it "If I Had A Million Gary Cooper," confusing some who didn't see Coop in a particular segment and didn't realize this was an episodic film. (About the only actor you see in multiple segments is Richard Bennett -- yep, the dad of Constance and Joan -- who plays the crochety dying tycoon who decides to give a million dollars of his fortune to eight strangers he's randomly picked from the city directory.)
The film has great moments, such as Charles Laughton, now able to quit his job, giving his boss the...raspberry (were they remaking this film today, the character would likely make some other gesture), or W.C. Fields and Alison Skipworth causing havoc on the highways.
But my favorite moment of "Million" -- one that's as pre-Code as you can get -- involves Wynne Gibson as hard-boiled streetwalker Violet Smith, whom Bennett finds in a flophouse where she plies her trade. After he convinces her he's on the level, the suddenly wealthy Violet checks into the fanciest hotel suite in town to sleep...alone. (This was the part of the film I saw on TV as a child in 1964, causing my mother to change the channel. At the time, most televised versions of the film deleted this segment because it was then considered too racy.) You can find it at the end of part 2 and the beginning of part 3.
Why see it? Let me show you a reason: