First edition cover
|Author||George Barr McCutcheon|
|Publisher||Grosset & Dunlap|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
Brewster's Millions is a novel written by George Barr McCutcheon in 1902, originally under the pseudonym of Richard Greaves. It was adapted into a play in 1906, which opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway, and the novel or play has been adapted into films ten times, three of which were produced in India.
The novel's story revolves around Montgomery Brewster, a young man who inherits one million dollars from his rich grandfather. Shortly after, a rich and eccentric uncle who hated his grandfather also passes away. The uncle will leave Brewster seven million dollars, but only under the condition that he keeps none of the grandfather's money. (The reason for this hatred was that Brewster's grandfather did not approve the marriage of Monty's parents and harshly defamed the Sedgwick family, from which Monty's mother originated, something Brewster's uncle never forgave.) To inherit the seven million dollars, Brewster is required to spend every penny of his grandfather's million within one year, and end up with no assets or goods gained by his grandfather's wealth at that time. Should he make the deadline, he will earn the full seven million; should he fail, he remains penniless.
Brewster finds that spending so much money within the course of a year is incredibly difficult, especially with the strict conditions imposed by the executor of his uncle's will. Brewster is required to demonstrate business sense by obtaining good value for the money he spends, limiting his donations to charity, his losses to gambling, and the value of his tips to waiters and cab drivers. Moreover, Brewster is sworn to secrecy, and cannot tell anyone why he is living to excess. Working against him are his well-meaning friends, who try repeatedly to limit his losses and extravagance even as they share in his luxurious lifestyle.
Brewster's challenge is compounded by the fact that his attempts to lose money through stock speculation and roulette prove to increase his funds rather than decrease them. Lampooned by the press as a spendthrift, he throws large parties and balls and charters a cruise lasting several months to Europe and Egypt for his large circle of friends and employees. Nonetheless, despite his loose pursestrings, Brewster repeatedly demonstrates a strong moral character. At one point, he uses his funds to bail out a bank to save his landlady's account, despite risking his eligibility for the will. At another, he jumps overboard to save a drowning sailor from his cruise even as his rich friends choose not to.
Monty's would-be wife Barbara Drew turns down his marriage proposal early in the year, believing him to be financially irresponsible and bound to a life of poverty, and his attempts to win her back repeatedly fail as Monty's attention is entirely absorbed by the requirement to spend so much money. At the conclusion of the year, Monty succeeds in spending the last of his funds, which he has meticulously documented, and confesses his love to another woman, Peggy Gray, who has been sympathetic to his lifestyle despite knowing nothing about his challenge. Tragedy strikes the night before Monty's deadline, as his lawyers inform him that the executor of his uncle's will has vanished after liquidating all of the assets. Monty convinces himself that he is doomed to poverty, but marries Peggy Gray, who accepts him despite the lack of wealth. Shortly after the wedding, the executor of his uncle's will arrives to inform him that he has successfully met the challenge and that he had simply come to deliver the money to Monty in person.
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
Opening Night Principal Cast
- Edward Abeles - Montgomery Brewster
- Leslie Bassett - Fred Gardner
- Gaston Bell - Horace Pettingill
- Cecile Breton - Trixie Clayton
- George Clare - Rawles
- Jack Devereaux - Subway Smith
- Sumner Gard - Archibald Vanderpool
- Willard Howe - Frank Bragdon
- Nestor Lennon - Colonel Drew
- Emily Lytton - Mrs. Dan De Mille
- Arthur Morris - Thomas
- Olive Murray - Barbara Drew
- Josephine Park - Janice Armstrong
- George Probert - Nopper Harrison
- Eugene Redding - Monsieur Bargie
- Albert Sackett - Mr. Grant
- Joseph Woodburn - Joseph MacCloud
The play was later adapted into a musical, Zip Goes a Million.
The novel Brewster's Millions has been adapted into many films:
|Brewster's Millions||1914||Cecil B. DeMille and Oscar Apfel||Edward Abeles||Based on the play. Considered a lost film.|
|Brewster's Millions||1921||Joseph Henabery||Roscoe Arbuckle||Screenplay by Walter Woods, based on the play.|
|Miss Brewster's Millions||1926||Clarence G. Badger||Bebe Daniels||Screenplay by Monte Brice, Lloyd Corrigan and Harold Shumate, based on the play.|
|Brewster's Millions||1935||Thornton Freeland||Jack Buchanan||Screenplay by Douglas Furber and Paul Gangelin. United Kingdom version where Brewster has to spend 500,000 pound sterling in 60 days to inherit £6 million.|
|Brewster's Millions||1945||Allan Dwan||Dennis O'Keefe||Screenplay by Sig Herzig and Wilkie C. Mahoney. Brewster has to spend one million dollars in 60 days or less to inherit $7 million.|
|Vaddante Dabbu||1954||H.M. Reddy||N.T.Rama Rao||This is a Telugu movie.|
|Three on a Spree||1961||Sidney J. Furie||Jack Watling||Screenplay by Sig Herzig and James Kelley|
|Brewster's Millions||1985||Walter Hill||Richard Pryor||Screenplay by Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris. Brewster has to spend $30 million in 30 days or less to inherit $300 million; he is given the option to simply take $1 million upfront, but turns it down.|
|Maalamaal||1988||Kawal Sharma||Naseeruddin Shah||This Hindi-language version was released in India in 1988. The plot remains the same – spend 30 million rupees in 30 days or less to earn 300 million rupees. It is an obvious scene-by-scene 'Indianisation' of the 1985 Richard Pryor film with some additional scenes and a few musical production numbers. Maalamaal at the Internet Movie Database|
|Arunachalam||1997||Sundar C||An Indian Tamil film based also on the Brewster story, with significant differences from earlier versions, particularly in the first half. Many plotlines are interwoven, but the basic concept, spending 30 million rupees in 30 days to inherit 300 million, remains the same.|
In the It's Punky Brewster episode "Punky's Millions," Punky Brewster is on a TV show trying to win money for charity. In order to win the $40 million prize, she must spend one million dollars in 48 hours. To make sure that the money would not be spent all at once on something very expensive (e.g. a villa as suggested by one of Punky's friends), a rule states the money cannot be used to buy any single item for more than $10,000. When the deadline ends, Punky and her friends have lost because one of her friends, Allen, forgot to spend the 98 cents he got as change when he bought chocolate. Fortunately, one of the dollars was spent on a lottery ticket, and the heroes win $100,000, saving the orphanage.
- Brewster's Millions at Project Gutenberg
- Brewster's Millions, online at Ye Olde Library
- Brewster's Millions at the Internet Broadway Database