- Eddie's Millions 11/16/2002 12:00:00 AM by lugonian
KID MILLIONS (Samuel Goldwyn, 1934), directed by Roy Del Ruth, marks the fifth collaboration of the Samuel Goldwyn/Eddie Cantor annual productions, and another winner to their collection of musical comedies from the Depression-era 1930s, and the most lavish and entertaining thus far.
The story begins in New York City where a naive, good-natured Brooklyn schnook named Edward Grant Wilson Jr. (Eddie Cantor), a Cinderfella-type of a guy living by the waterfront with his rough-and-tough step-brothers (Edgar Kennedy, Stanley Fields and Jack Kelly), who take pride in "stepping" on their little Eddie when the mood conveniently suits them. Eddie, who sings to the neighborhood kids, is comforted by his steady girlfriend named (Doris Davenport). When news breaks out that Eddie's archaeologist father has died and left him his entire fortune of $77 million, Eddie soon finds himself the center of attention and treated like royalty by his stepbrothers. At the advice of his attorneys, Eddie sets sail on board the S.S. Luxor bound for Egypt, later to be accompanied by his lawyer friend, Jerry Lane (George Murphy) in Gibrartar, to claim his fortune. Also on board ship are Dot Clark (Ethel Merman), a Broadway songplugger, and her gangster stooge, Louie the Lug (Warren Hymer), posing as Eddie's long lost mother and uncle, trying to get him to sign a document over to them, failing at all costs; and Colonel Harry Larrabee (Berton Churchill), a Southerner gentleman from Virginia who had financed the original expedition for Eddie's father and now wants his cut of the money. He invites his attractive niece, Joan (Ann Sothern), unaware of her uncle's scheme, to keep Jerry occupied while the Colonel works on Eddie. After porting in Alexandria, Eddie encounters a sheik's (Paul Harvey) daffy daughter, Fanya (Eve Sully), and her jealous beau, Ben Ali (Jesse Block), later to be surrounded by the Sheik's beautiful harem girls. Eddie prances among the Pyramids seeking his inheritance while the others try to disinherit him by claiming that they are the rightful heirs, almost causing Eddie to become the human sacrifice and those associated with him.
As silly as this sounds in print, including one particular scene where the 19-year-old Dot (Merman) tries to convince the 25-year-old Eddie she's is his mother, KID MILLIONS succeeds at all costs. That same scene in which Mama Merman tells "Uncle" Louie to give Eddie a kiss is something of a surprise as to how THAT got by the censors. Eve Sully (in her movie debut), part of the comedy team of Sully and Block, practically steals every comic moment from her leading performers, particularly with her distinctive voice and Gracie Allen-type mannerisms. A pity she never worked in further features or comedy shorts. KID MILLIONS also offers a glimpse of the youthful Ann Sothern (quite slim and trim) and Ethel Merman in her flare of sassy comedy.
Aside from funny business, KID MILLIONS takes time out for songs, good songs, compliments of composers Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn, Harold Adamson and Harold Lane, with choreography by Seymour Felix, including: "An Earful of Music" (sung by Ethel Merman); "When My Ship Comes In" (sung by Eddie Cantor); "Your Head on My Shoulder" (sung by Ann Sothern and George Murphy); THE SHIP'S CONCERT MINSTREL SHOW: "An Earful of Music" (briefly sung by Merman); "I Want to Be a Minstrel Man" (sung by Harold Nicholas and Goldwyn Girls); "Mandy" (by IRVING BERLIN, sung by Eddie Cantor in black-face, Ethel Merman, Ann Sothern, George Murphy and Goldwyn Girls); "Your Head on My Shoulder" (sung by Murphy and Sothern); "Mandy" (reprise by Cantor, Sothern and Murphy), followed and concluded by a dance number highlight by The Nicholas Brothers; "Okay, Toots" (sung by Eddie Cantor); "Ice Cream Fantasy" (sung by Ethel Merman, Eddie Cantor and children) and "When My Ship Comes In" (sung by Eddie Cantor).
The elaborate finale of THE ICE CREAM FANTASY, photographed in Technicolor, is something that would have made Walt Disney proud. While all the songs are tuneful, with "Mandy" being the best known of the bunch, the others are not as well known. The solo number featuring The Nicholas Brothers, then young boys, easily displays their unique talents as first rate performers with a once in a lifetime dancing style that has yet to be equaled or surpassed by anyone. Thank goodness for the likes of the Nicholas Brothers in demonstrating the kind of entertainment, long missing in today's world of movie making, that will never go out of fashion and continue to delight for as long as their films continue to be shown.
Also seen in the supporting cast are Stymie Beard and Tommy Bond (familiar faces of the "Our Gang" comedy shorts); Henry Kolker as an attorney; and Jack Kennedy. Avid film buffs will delight in trying to spot a young blonde Lucille Ball as one of the Goldwyn Girls, noticeably in the "Mandy" and "Okay Toots" numbers. Barbara Pepper, another TV veteran (Doris Ziffel in GREEN ACRES in the 1960s), also taking part as a Goldwyn Girl.
KID MILLIONS, along with ROMAN SCANDALS (1933), are two musical comedies to have survived the longest on video cassette display, while other Cantor/Goldwyn musicals have been discontinued. Aside from being common place in late night presentation on commercial television in the 1960s and '70s, KID MILLIONS had aired on numerous cable channels in the 1980s, ranging from Arts & Entertainment, the Family Channel, Turner Network Television, and finally on American Movie Classics from 1992 to 1998. It's a million dollar production that has become a million dollar movie of 90 minute screen entertainment. (***1/2)
- More Wonderful Cantor Nonsense 3/1/2011 12:00:00 AM by earlytalkie
All of the films of Eddie Cantor are great, but my two favorites have to be "Whoopee!" and this one. The storyline has our hero going to Egypt to inherit a 77 million dollar fortune, followed by a platoon of other people who would like to lay a prior claim to it. Among the co-stars are lovely Ann Sothern, in one of her earliest roles as the ingénue, and amazing Ethel Merman who really gives us "An Earful Of Music" in the opening sequence. Also along for the ride are the very young Nicholas Brothers who prove why they were so popular, and if you blink, you'll miss a glimpse of young Lucille Ball as one of the famed Goldwyn Girls. The finale is shot in spectacular three-color Technicolor, which was in an experimental stage at this point. Love this film.
- Eddie Gets His Millions 5/11/2006 12:00:00 AM by bkoganbing
In a recent and long overdue biography of Eddie Cantor it turns out that Cantor's daughter Marilyn was responsible for the casting of Ethel Merman in this and a subsequent film of her father's. The Cantors and the San Goldwyns saw each other socially quite a bit and young Marilyn Cantor became a fan of Merman's after seeing her on the Broadway stage. She lobbied with Goldwyn to get Merman opposite her father and the man relented.
Cantor and Merman did work well together here and in Strike Me Pink. Eddie is playing his usual bullied schnook who is living with what I guess would be considered a foster family on the New York docks. But it turns out he's the son of an archaeologist who went to Egypt and went missing, but who found a reputed treasure. All he has to do is claim the treasure over in Egypt. Of course there are some other people who think they have a claim.
Berton Churchill and daughter Ann Sothern helped finance the expedition and Ethel Merman claims a common-law relationship, a scheme cooked up by her hoodlum boy friend Warren Hymer.
All of these people perform well and I have to say that Warren Hymer who never exactly played intellectuals on the screen actually dumbs HIS usual character down for the film. But I have to say that the man who seemed to be enjoying himself most playing the villainous Arab sheik is character actor Paul Harvey. He overacts outrageously in his part and I'm sure he was grateful for the false beard and mustache he had to wear to contain the grins he must have had on his face.
Playing the Harvey's daughter and her beloved are the vaudeville team of Eva Sully and Jesse Block in their only screen appearance. I'm betting Cantor was responsible for their casting. Eva in her harem outfit and Jewish accent develops a crush on Cantor who's who'd rather be boiled in the sheik's oil than marry her. But that's part of the whole wonderfully silly plot.
A whole host of song writing talents contributed to this film, Irving Berlin, Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn and Burton Lane and Harold Adamson. Some sharp ears might recognize a Lane tune that was revived with a different lyric by Alan Jay Lerner and danced to by Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding then called You're All the World To Me.
There is also one of the strangest minstrel numbers ever shot on screen where no one but Cantor is in blackface. During it he has to dance with the Nicholas Brothers and I'm sure in the primitive minds back then it was felt he'd better look like them. He shouldn't have tried because Fayard and Harold dance him right off the screen.
Other than the minstrel number, Kid Millions is one of the best musicals from out of the Thirties and another showcase of the talented Eddie Cantor.
- Mesmerizing Nonsense 4/6/2020 12:00:00 AM by LeonardKniffel
There is no better example of Hollywood nonsense than this comedy with the bewilderingly popular Eddie Cantor. The jokes are so outrageous and politically incorrect that the film is mesmerizing as a look back at the times. The Goldwyn Girls and the brilliant dancing Nicholas Brothers stand out in this film, and the classic song "Mandy" also features Ethel Merman, Ann Sothern, George Murphy, and Cantor inexplicably wearing black-face minstrel make-up. --Musicals on the Silver Screen, American Library Association, 2013
- Desipte some politically incorrect elements, Kid Millions was still quite enjoyable 2/7/2019 12:00:00 AM by tavm
It's just a big coincidence that several days after the revelation, or not, of Virginia governor Ralph Northam being, or not, that blackfaced guy on a 1984 medical yearbook page which may, or not, force him to resign, I'm reviewing a movie starring a guy often known for doing many performances in such makeup-Eddie Cantor. Also, that one of the characters happens to be from that very state. The number Eddie appears as such is "Mandy" by Irving Berlin. I should note that neither Eddie nor Irving were racists, per se, as Eddie reportedly was often moved by how the people of the African-American race overcame whatever bigotry they endured, and Irving actually wrote a song for Ethel Waters-"Supper Time"-that described her trying to cheerfully feed her children some food despite her knowing of another lynching for "Thousands Cheer" the year before this movie. I should also note that accompanying Eddie on the "Mandy" number near the end of it were The Nicholas Brothers-Fayard who was then 19 or 20 and Harold who was 12 or 13-with each keeping Eddie from tap dancing when his brother was doing so. Also appearing in this movie were the "Our Gang" kids of the time-like Leonard Kibrick, Tommy Bond before he became Butch, and Matthew "Stymie" Beard, of which Leonard and Stymie had some choice lines. They appeared in the beginning and the Technicolor end. There's also Edgar Kennedy, who previously played a cop in earlier "Our Gang" shorts, playing one of the step brothers of Eddie. Others in the cast were Ethel Merman, Ann Sothern, and George Murphy. In summary, Kid Millions was quite a treat of a musical comedy, despite some politically incorrect elements. P.S. The print I watched online had skipped some frames digitally.