Dreams That Money Can Buy

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Dreams That Money Can Buy
Dreams that money can buy.jpg
DVD cover
Directed by Hans Richter
Produced by Kenneth Macpherson
Hans Richter
Written by Josh White
Man Ray (uncredited:"Ruth Roses and Revolvers")
Hans Rehfisch
Hans Richter
David Vern
Starring Jack Bittner
Libby Holman
Josh White
Music by Louis Applebaum ("Narcissus")
Paul Bowles ("Desire" and "Ballet")
John Cage ("Discs")
David Diamond ("Circus")
Darius Milhaud ("Ruth, Roses and Revolvers")
Josh White ("The Girl With the Prefabricated Heart")
Cinematography Werner Brandes
Arnold S. Eagle
Peter Glushanok
Herman Shulman
Victor Vicas
Release dates September 1947
Running time 99 mins
Country  United States
Language English
Budget $15,000

Dreams That Money Can Buy is a 1947 experimental feature color film written, produced, and directed by surrealist artist and dada film-theorist Hans Richter.

The film was produced by Kenneth Macpherson and Peggy Guggenheim.[1]

Collaborators included Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Alexander Calder, Darius Milhaud and Fernand Léger. The film won the Award for the Best Original Contribution to the Progress of Cinematography at the 1947 Venice Film Festival.


Joe/Narcissus (Jack Bittner) is an ordinary man who has recently signed a complicated lease on a room. As he wonders how to pay the rent, he discovers that he can see the contents of his mind unfolding whilst looking into his eyes in the mirror. He realises that he can apply his gift to others ("If you can look inside yourself, you can look inside anyone!"), and sets up a business in his room, selling tailor-made dreams to a variety of frustrated and neurotic clients. Each of the seven surreal dream sequences in the diegesis is in fact the creation of a contemporary avant-garde and/or surrealist artist, as follows:

Desire Max Ernst (Director/Writer)
The Girl with the Prefabricated Heart Fernand Léger (Director/Writer)

Song Lyrics John Latouche Sung by Libby Holman and Josh White, accompanied by Norma Cazanjian and Doris Okerson

Ruth, Roses and Revolvers Man Ray (Director/Writer)

Music By Darius Milhaud

Discs Marcel Duchamp (Writer)

Music By John Cage

Circus Alexander Calder (Writer)

Music By David Diamond

Ballet Alexander Calder (Director/Writer)

Music By Paul Bowles

Narcissus Hans Richter (Director/Writer)

Music By Louis Applebaum Dialogue by Richard Holback and Hans Richter

Joe's waiting room is full within minutes of his first day of operation, "the first installment on the 2 billion clients" according to the male narrator in voiceover, whose voice is the only one we hear in the non-dream sequences.

Case number one is Mr and Mrs A. Mr A is a "methodical, exact" bank clerk. His wife "complains [he] has a mind like a double entry column; no virtues, no vices". She wants a dream for him "with practical values to widen his horizons, heighten ambitions, maybe a raise in salary". Joe asks Mrs A to leave the room during Mr A's consultation. Mr A reveals that within his ledger he has a collection of art images cut from magazines, including drawings of a woman reclining in bed; another on an old man's lap; another being shot by an animal-headed man; a filmic image of red liquid passing through water, and another of a melting wax figure of a woman.

Joe "finds a dream" for Mr A based on these interests. In the dream ("Desire") leaves fall to the ground beside a red curtain. A woman in white reclines in a red-curtained four-poster bed. A small golden ball rises and falls from her mouth as she breathes. She swallows the ball, smiles and falls asleep. Bars appear by her bed, and a man watches from behind them as she dreams of nightingales with calves' hooves. It appears the man is part of her dream, and telephones her to ask in voiceover for details. She tells him in voiceover "they talked about love and pleasure". Her telephone falls to the floor and excludes a misty smoke, which envelops her bed.


Credited Cast[edit]

Uncredited cast[edit]

(Cast list source: imdb [2]


  1. ^ ‘Hans Richter - Senses Of Cinema, Great Directors Issue 49[1]

External links[edit]