Million Dollar Mystery

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Million Dollar Mystery
A black trash bag with a big green dollar sign on it.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Fleischer
Written by
Produced byStephen F. Kesten
StarringTom Bosley
CinematographyJack Cardiff
Edited byJohn W. Wheeler
Music byAl Gorgoni
Distributed byDe Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Release date
June 12, 1987 (1987-06-12)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million[1]
Box office$989,033[2]

Million Dollar Mystery (also known as Money Mania) is a 1987 American film released with a promotional tie-in for Glad-Lock brand bags. This was the final feature-length film directed by Richard Fleischer and shot by Jack Cardiff.

It starred an ensemble cast of "America's new comic talent", including Tom Bosley, Eddie Deezen, Rick Overton, Rich Hall, and Kevin Pollak. The film was largely inspired by Stanley Kramer's It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Dar Robinson, a stuntman, died on November 21, 1986, after riding his motorcycle off a cliff while attempting to do a stunt.


Sidney Preston, a disgruntled White House aide, takes off with $4 million that belonged to the government. While on the run, he stops at a roadside diner in Arizona and has their world-famous chili, while flirting with the waitress. Two clumsy government spies named Fred and Bob are looking for Sidney. Sidney suffers a fatal heart attack and before dying asks for a kiss from the waitress, then he reveals to the onlookers the location of the first million dollars which he says is "In the city of the bridge". The onlookers are the Briggs Family (Stuart, Barbara, and Howie), nerdy newlyweds Rollie and Lollie, amateur singer Crush and his group of three blonde backup dancers (Faith, Hope, and Charity), brother/cook Tugger and sister/waitress Dotty. Soon, they meet professional wrestlers Bad Boris and Awful Abdul, cops Officer Gretchen and Officer Quinn, and deranged ranger Slaughter Buzzard.

The onlookers are skeptical, until Rollie turns on the television which is playing the news talking about Sidney Preston and the buried money. The newsman talks about his life and says he was born in El Puente, Arizona. The onlookers of the diner head out on a mad dash to find the dough. When they find the money in El Puente's famous bridge, Slaughter accidentally drops it into the canyon. They follow clues to the next million which is in Sidney's houseboat and lose it as well as it gets shredded in Sidney's table-sized paper shredder. After finding and losing the third million as it falls out of the hands of a greedy aeronaut, they all give up as the movie ends. During the closing credits, Bob informs the audience that there is one million dollars somewhere in the US and if they follow the clues in specially marked Glad-Lock bags, they have the chance to win $1 million.



Parts of the film were shot at Glen Canyon in Utah.[3]

While performing a routine stunt for this film, stuntman Dar Robinson died on November 21, 1986.

Marketing contest[edit]

Producer Dino De Laurentiis conceived the idea for Million Dollar Mystery when he visited New York and saw a row of people lining up for what he presumably thought was a movie. A companion told De Laurentiis that they were actually lining up for lottery tickets.[4]

Glad Bags sponsored a sweepstakes timed for the film's release. The company gave away entry forms, and the audience would fill out these forms with their answer to where the last million is hiding, based on clues given in the film. De Laurentiis said of the film:

This is a really broad comedy with car chases, designed for the young major moviegoing audience, about 12 to 24 years old. The sweepstakes gives us the potential to reach even more people – the infrequent moviegoer, the person more interested in winning a million dollars than in going to the movies, and these are the kind of people who use Glad Bags, housewives who maybe go to the movies once or twice a year.[5]

De Laurentiis had high expectations for the film, but it did not turn out to be a hit. The winner of the contest ended up being 14-year-old Alesia Lenae Jones of Bakersfield, California, who successfully guessed that the loot was hidden in the bridge of the nose of the Statue of Liberty.[6][7][8] Apparently, thousands of contestants had arrived at the same answer, and her entry was chosen in a random drawing.[9]


Million Dollar Mystery was a box office flop grossing $989,033 against a $10 million budget.

The film received negative critical reviews. The film holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 6 reviews.[10]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS and Laserdisc by HBO Video in 1987 with the contest info at the end of the movie omitted. It was later issued by Anchor Bay Entertainment on DVD in 2007 with the theatrical ending intact, and reissued again on DVD and Blu-ray by Kino Lorber in Spring 2021.

Award nominations[edit]

Golden Raspberry Awards


  1. ^ WILLIAM K. KNOEDELSEDER JR (30 August 1987). "De Laurentiis PRODUCER'S PICTURE DARKENS". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ Million Dollar Mystery at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: a history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 9781423605874.
  4. ^ Frankel, Mark. "The Little Producer That Couldn't." Spy (August 1989).
  5. ^ Darnton, Nina. "Million Dollar Mystery (1987): At the Movies." New York Times (May 1, 1987).
  6. ^ "Film flop a bonanza for girl, 14." Chicago Sun-Times (April 7, 1988).
  8. ^ Movies April 06, 1988, LA Times.
  9. ^ "Million Dollar Mystery" movie review, accessed 9/4/15.
  10. ^ "Million Dollar Mystery". Rotten Tomatoes.

External links[edit]