Friday, April 27, 2018

Actually, Italy uses "miliardo"

Another movie that's available from Fox's MOD scheme that I caught when it aired on FXM Retro is Mr. Billion.

The movie starts off with a humorous sequence of financier Anthony Falcon celebrating 50 years of his investment bank. However, the logo on his shiny corporate headquarters falls off, hitting him in the head and killing him instantly.

Falcon's will is read, and it turns out that he's decided to bequeath everything -- totaling a billion dollars -- to a nephew Guido (Italian actor Terence Hill) who works as a sports car mechanic in Rome, because Guido is the one person who didn't try to make financial demands on Anthony -- except for a pair of cowboy boots. Apparently Guido learned English by watching westerns and Steve McQueen movies.

Anyhow, Anthony's attorneys and his second-in-command at the bank Cutler (Jackie Gleason) travel to Rome to deal with the will, which also has a clause that Guido has to show up at a meeting in San Francisco at a certain time or else the will is invalid and, presumably, control of the financial empire reverts to Cutler. I can't quite understand why people would write wills that create obvious conflicts of interest, but this is something we've seen already in the several versions of Brewster's Millions.

If I were in line to inherit a billion dollars and had to be somewhere by a certain time, I'd want to get there as soon as possible. Guido, however, makes the idiotic decision that he's going to go to San Francisco the way his uncle did, by boat and train. This gives ample opportunities for things to go wrong, and sure enough things go wrong, encouraged by Cutler. Cutler has hired a hot young lady Rosie Jones (Valerie Perrine) to get Guido to sign a power of attorney that will effectively give Cutler all the control and Guido a pittance. But Rosie falls in love with Guido along the way, leaving Cutler to try more forceful methods to deal with Guido....

I already referenced Brewster's Millions above, and having a premise involving one party trying to prevent a will going into effect has obvious comic potential. Mr. Billion, however, falls short in the execution. The director used the whole "learning English from Hollywood movies" things to set up a couple of scenes that are just tediously stupid. Once they get to America, the action just goes all over the place. After the first thing that goes wrong, you wonder why Guido wouldn't just get onto a plane to San Francisco. And too often, the characters come across as cardboard cutouts with little depth.

I'm sorry to say I was disappointed by Mr. Billion. As always I suggest judging for yourself, so it's a bit of a shame that the Fox MOD discs are as pricey as they are.

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