Brewster's Millions (1945 film)

Brewster's Millions
Directed by Allan Dwan
John E. Burch (assistant)
Produced by Edward Small
Written by Sig Herzig
Wilkie C. Mahoney
Winchell Smith
Based on the 1902 novel Brewster's Millions by George Barr McCutcheon and the 1906 stage play of the same name by Byron Ongley and Winchell Smith
Starring Dennis O'Keefe
Helen Walker
June Havoc
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson
Music by Hugo Friedhofer
Cinematography Charles Lawton Jr.
Edited by Richard Heermance
Edward Small Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • April 7, 1945 (1945-04-07)
Running time
79 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $750,000 (est.)[1]

Brewster's Millions (1945) is one of a number of adaptations of the novel of the same name by George Barr McCutcheon. In the original Brewster's Millions, the hero was a stockbroker; in this version, Brewster is a returning soldier.

The film was banned in Memphis, Tennessee, because the character of an African-American servant, portrayed by Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, was treated too well.[2][3]

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


Montague L. Brewster (Dennis O'Keefe), a newly discharged U.S. soldier back from fighting in Europe during World War II, rushes home in New York City to marry his sweetheart, Peggy Gray (Helen Walker). 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, only two months away by October 13, 1944, without keeping any assets. The lawyer explains that Brewster's relative 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.

Brewster sets up his own investment company called Brewster & Company and hires his wartime buddies Hacky Smith (Joe Sawyer) and Noppy Harrison (Herbert Rudley) 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 (Gail Patrick), then showgirl Trixie Summers (June Havoc), even though he is only using them to help squander the million. Smith and Harrison (mistakingly thinking that Brewster has gone crazy due to his spending sprees), begin to thwart all of his spending schemes. At the same time, Peggy breaks up with Brewster, but her wise mother (Nana Bryant) 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 chartared yacht turned around to return to New York, thinking that Brewster has lost his mind by financing this pointless cruise. When Brewster's chartered yacht is disabled by a leftover U-boat mine, he escapes from his containment and makes it 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 jubliant, realizing that after paying off the salvage fee as well as the finance costs of the cruise and the losses of the failed stage play, this is all of the last amount of money to spend.

In the final scene, set several days later as the deadline approaches, Brewster is back in New York at Peggy's house with the recepts 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 as the clock to the deadline strikes 12 noon, he is able to get rid of the money by paying the executor's fee, an old $10 debt, and the last $2 for a cab fare, just before time runs out. Having secured his inheritance of $7,000,000, 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 is trying to sell the item for two cents more than it can be bought at the store. For this reason, Brewster throws him out, thus proving that his actions over the last 60 days had not changed him.



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.[4] He bought the rights in June 1944.[5]

Garry Moore was originally cast but was replaced after one day of filming by Mischa Auer.[6]


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.[7]


  1. "Indies $70,000,000 Pix Output". Variety: 3. 3 November 1944. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  2. "Notes for Brewster's Millions (1945)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 02-04-2009. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  3. On-air comment by Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies
  4. HOLLYWOOD AWAKENS TO THE SHORTS: One and Two Reel Films Regaining Popularity -- Love Wins as Usual By FRED STANLEYHOLLYWOOD.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 25 June 1944: X3.
  5. 'Brewster's Millions' The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 19 June 1944: 4.
  6. Andy Russell Touted as Mexico's Sinatra: Bing Crosby Will Fill Guest-Star Spot in Filmization of 'Duffy's Tavern' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 01 Sep 1944: 10.
  7. Cloris Leachman Signs Pact Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 May 1970: g18.

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