Rarely do super productions turn out to be great pictures, and "If I Had a Million," currently showing at the University, is no exception. But while most productions which boast a "galaxy of stars" fail through conflicts of acting, this one lacks anything which might approach unity of direction. The superb cast of directors, headed by Ernst Lubitsch, Paramount's ace, leaves the minds of their audience much the same feeling as that created by the architecture of Adams House: a meaningless hodge-podge of more or less attractive pieces.
Richard Bennett, as the steel magnate who decides on his deathbed to dispense his fortune in million dollar lots to names in the city directory, acts consistently well throughout the production. Charles Laughton gives the best, but unfortunately shortest, performance; Charlie Ruggles makes a very amusing clerk in a chinaware store; Wynne Gibson overacts as the prostitute; Alison Skipworth and W. C. Fields provide much needed comic relief; and May Robson, in one of her first appearances on the screen, gives one of the best pieces of acting in the picture. Individually, the shots are generally well-directed and effective, but as a whole the picture has too little continuity, too little of its best actors, and much too little of many excellent directors.
"The Penguin Pool Murder," on the same bill, is a moderately entertaining but trite mystery-comedy, with occasional good bits of performing by James Gleason and Edna May Oliver.