Thursday, December 09, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks: Rags to Riches


For the 49th week of 2021 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of rags to riches stories as it plays to those who strike it rich or work their way to become successful. Here are my three picks:

1. The Jerk
Carl Reiner’s hilarious story about a poor white boy raised by an African-American family of sharecroppers as he goes on his own where he creates an invention and becomes rich. It is a film that isn’t afraid to be idiotic but also play into this man’s own lack of reality where he does become rich but is unable to understand how he did it. It would also play into his downfall due to the fact that is invention is also flawed as the way Reiner presents it is genius as the film is this top-tier moment in his rich collaboration with the film’s star in Steve Martin.

2. Trading Places
John Landis’ unique take on The Prince and the Pauper is a strange one as it’s more about these two rich billionaire brothers who decide to switch the lives of a rich and entitled stock broker with a poor and homeless hustler. With Dan Aykroyd as the rich Louis Winthorpe and Eddie Murphy as the poor Ray Valentine, the two become victims of these billionaire brothers for an experiment on breeding vs. environment where Murphy’s character uses his street smarts to show how he can make a lot of money in the stock market while Aykroyd’s character is forced to learn about the ideas of hard work. Yet, the two come together to get revenge as this experiment that they were used was all for a fucking dollar.

3. Brewster’s Millions
From Walter Hill is an unusual adaptation of the George Barr McCutcheon novel that is about a minor league player whose great uncle has left him a $300 million fortune but it comes with several conditions where he can spend $30 million in thirty days but not make any money from that $30 million. Starring Richard Pryor as Monty Brewster, it is a film that does play to Pryor’s gifts as an actor where he is funny but also display some dramatic chops. Featuring a great supporting performance from John Candy, it is a comedy that does explore some of the good and bad of having lots of money but also how it can change people for better or for worse.

© thevoid99 2021


Sara said...

I chose Trading Places as well! I haven't seen The Jerk but I heard it's pretty funny.

Brittani Burnham said...

I know I've seen your first two but it's been YEARS. The 3rd one sounds familiar, I feel like I've maybe seen part of it.

joel65913 said...

I've never been too fond of The Jerk. It has its moments and is a fine spotlight for Steve Martin's talents but I don't find it as funny as many do.

Trading Places is preposterous but thanks to the skill with which it's played by Murphy, Ackroyd, Ameche, Bellamy and Jamie Lee Curtis and Landis's sure handed direction it goes down easily.

We sort of match with Brewster's Millions. I chose the original version which I prefer but this one is a pleasant watch thanks to Richard Pryor's performance.

I also thought of Trading Places but guessed it would be popular so I went with three older films that looked at the theme from different perspectives.

If I Had a Million (1932)-To keep his money from going to the pack of vultures that are his family, a steel tycoon (Richard Bennett) chooses eight random strangers from the phone directory and gives each $1 million. For some-an entertainer (W.C. Fields), a salesman (Charlie Ruggles), a prostitute (the great, unjustly forgotten Wynne Gibson), an office clerk (Charles Laughton), a retiree (May Robson)-the windfall brings joy both temporary and permanent. For others-a death row inmate (Gene Raymond) and a gangster (George Raft)-sorrow and for one-a Marine (Gary Cooper) disbelief but it changes them all. Each vignette was helmed by a different director including Ernst Lubitsch.

Brewster’s Millions (1945)-Penniless Monty Brewster (Dennis O'Keefe) fresh out of the service learns that his uncle has left him $8 million! There’s a catch, the will stipulates that Monty must spend $1 million before noon of his 30th birthday two months hence. Monty thinks it will be a snap until he finds out it must be done in complete secrecy following a set of arcane rules including remaining single, much to the chagrin of his fiancée Peggy (Helen Walker). Wackiness ensues as Monty discovers just how difficult it can be to spend a million dollars!

Caught (1949)-Poor department store model Leonora Eames (Barbara Bel Geddes-Vertigo and Miss Ellie of Dallas fame) tired of struggling to make a buck sets her sights on marrying a millionaire. When she snags multi-millionaire industrialist Smith Ohlrig (Robert Ryan) Leonora thinks she’s the luckiest girl in the world finding herself awash in every luxury imaginable. But it’s a false dream, Smith is a cold, controlling nutcase who holds her a virtual prisoner and delights in finding new ways to mentally torture her and Leonora finds herself “Caught”! Will kindly slum doctor Larry Quinada (James Mason) be able to save her in time? Atmospheric and unsettling noir.