Mr. Billion (1977)

PG | 92 mins | Comedy | 23 March 1977

Director:

Jonathan Kaplan

Cinematographer:

Matthew F. Leonetti

Production Designer:

Richard Berger

Production Company:

Pantheon Pictures
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HISTORY

       Mr. Billion was William Redfield’s last credited role before his death on 17 Aug 1976. It was also comedian Jackie Gleason’s first film role in seven years, the 21 Dec 1976 HR noted, and the American film debut of Italian “spaghetti Western” star Terence Hill, whose real name is Mario Girotti, according to the 13 May 1977 LAT. Actress Mary Woronov joined the cast in Sonoma, CA, the 20 Jul 1976 DV reported, but she does not appear in the finished film. Director Jonathan Kaplan cast his mother, Frances Heflin, and sister, Kate Heflin, as a kindly Texas farm widow and conniving Texas bar girl.
       The 7 Jun 1976 issues of both Box and HR noted that filming began that day in Rome, Italy, under the title Scramble, and was scheduled to move to the Grand Canyon on 12 Jun 1976. The 16 Aug 1976 Newsweek observed that two months later, the production was filming in San Francisco, CA, with a new title, Windfall. The title was finally changed to Mr. Billion at the end of the year, the 21 Dec 1976 HR noted.
       For the stockholders’ meeting at the end of the film, 600 people each made a $10 contribution to the American Cancer Society to appear as extras, the 4 Aug 1976 Var reported. To shoot the scene at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown San Francisco, the producers got a waiver from the Screen Extras Guild, which normally would have charged the filmmakers $47.50 for each extra.
       A demolition derby scene ... More Less

       Mr. Billion was William Redfield’s last credited role before his death on 17 Aug 1976. It was also comedian Jackie Gleason’s first film role in seven years, the 21 Dec 1976 HR noted, and the American film debut of Italian “spaghetti Western” star Terence Hill, whose real name is Mario Girotti, according to the 13 May 1977 LAT. Actress Mary Woronov joined the cast in Sonoma, CA, the 20 Jul 1976 DV reported, but she does not appear in the finished film. Director Jonathan Kaplan cast his mother, Frances Heflin, and sister, Kate Heflin, as a kindly Texas farm widow and conniving Texas bar girl.
       The 7 Jun 1976 issues of both Box and HR noted that filming began that day in Rome, Italy, under the title Scramble, and was scheduled to move to the Grand Canyon on 12 Jun 1976. The 16 Aug 1976 Newsweek observed that two months later, the production was filming in San Francisco, CA, with a new title, Windfall. The title was finally changed to Mr. Billion at the end of the year, the 21 Dec 1976 HR noted.
       For the stockholders’ meeting at the end of the film, 600 people each made a $10 contribution to the American Cancer Society to appear as extras, the 4 Aug 1976 Var reported. To shoot the scene at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown San Francisco, the producers got a waiver from the Screen Extras Guild, which normally would have charged the filmmakers $47.50 for each extra.
       A demolition derby scene was filmed at the Petaluma Speedway in Petaluma, CA, according to a Twentieth Century-Fox press release in the AMPAS library files. Spectators got in free, and filming lasted from early morning until seven p.m.
       The box office receipts for Mr. Billion at New York’s Radio City Music Hall were so “paltry,” the theater sued Twentieth Century-Fox for $107,123 to recoup its loses, the 23 Aug 1978 Var reported.

      End credits include the following statement: “The producers wish to thank the town and people of Sonoma, California and the Grand Canyon National Park Services for their help and co-operation.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Jun 1976.
---
Daily Variety
7 Jul 1976.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jul 1976.
---
Daily Variety
26 Dec 1976
p. 1, 22.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jun 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 1977
p. 3.
Los Angeles Sentinel
1 Jul 1976
Section B, p. 2A.
Los Angeles Times
7 Mar 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 May 1977
Section G, p. 25.
Newsweek
16 Aug 1976.
---
Variety
4 Aug 1976.
---
Variety
2 Mar 1977
p. 22.
Variety
23 Aug 1978.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Pantheon Picture
Kaplan/Friedman Productiion
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Unit mgr, Italian crew
Asst dir, Italian crew
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Aerial sequences
Gaffer
Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
Grip/dolly
Best boy
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const
Set dresser, Italian crew
Prop-maker
Prop-maker
Prop-maker
Painter
Painter
COSTUMES
Men`s ward
Women's ward
Miss Perrine's ward
Mr. Gleason's ward
SOUND
Sd ed creation by
Sd mixer
Rerec mixer
Soundman, Italian crew
Sd mixer
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and spec des
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Spec consultant
Asst to the prods
Asst to the prods
Asst to Miss Perrine
Prod, Italian crew
Casting, Italian crew
Prod coord
Loc auditor
Loc payroll
Transportaton coord
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Extra casting, San Francisco
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Windfall
Scramble
Release Date:
23 March 1977
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 23 March 1977. Los Angeles opening: 11 May 1977
Production Date:
began 7 June 1976 in Rome, Italy
completed August 1976 in San Francisco, California
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Copyright Date:
3 March 1977
Copyright Number:
LP47070
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
92
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When Antonio Falcone, chairman of the board of Falcon Finance, is killed by a falling Falcon Finance logo, his will bequeaths his billion-dollar empire to his nephew, Guido Falcone, an automobile mechanic in Italy. Falcon financial officer John Cutler and executive Leopold Lacy fly to Rome to inform Guido of his inheritance, and Cutler suggests that it would be best for Guido to sign a “power of attorney” putting Cutler in charge, so that Guido can live the carefree life of an Italian playboy and “never want for money.” However, Guido, who learned English watching John Wayne movies and loves the romance of the Old West, rejects Cutler’s offer and announces he is going to the U.S. to personally take charge. Cutler tells Guido he must be at “the company ceremony” at the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, California, at noon on the twelfth of April, or else he will lose his inheritance. Instead of flying, Guido sails to America in order to see the Statue of Liberty as he arrives, and Lacy meets him in New York City. A reporter asks the young Italian what he will do when he becomes America’s most eligible bachelor. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Cutler hires detective Rosie Jones to get Guido’s signature on the power of attorney agreement. Rather than fly to California, Guido takes a train to see the country, and Rosie and her accomplice, Bernie, book an adjoining compartment. Hearing Rosie cry “rape,” Guido beats up her “attacker,” Bernie, but when he tries to give Rosie mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, she feigns outrage and accuses him of being no better than her attacker. After Guido turns Bernie over to the conductor, Rosie ... +


When Antonio Falcone, chairman of the board of Falcon Finance, is killed by a falling Falcon Finance logo, his will bequeaths his billion-dollar empire to his nephew, Guido Falcone, an automobile mechanic in Italy. Falcon financial officer John Cutler and executive Leopold Lacy fly to Rome to inform Guido of his inheritance, and Cutler suggests that it would be best for Guido to sign a “power of attorney” putting Cutler in charge, so that Guido can live the carefree life of an Italian playboy and “never want for money.” However, Guido, who learned English watching John Wayne movies and loves the romance of the Old West, rejects Cutler’s offer and announces he is going to the U.S. to personally take charge. Cutler tells Guido he must be at “the company ceremony” at the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, California, at noon on the twelfth of April, or else he will lose his inheritance. Instead of flying, Guido sails to America in order to see the Statue of Liberty as he arrives, and Lacy meets him in New York City. A reporter asks the young Italian what he will do when he becomes America’s most eligible bachelor. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Cutler hires detective Rosie Jones to get Guido’s signature on the power of attorney agreement. Rather than fly to California, Guido takes a train to see the country, and Rosie and her accomplice, Bernie, book an adjoining compartment. Hearing Rosie cry “rape,” Guido beats up her “attacker,” Bernie, but when he tries to give Rosie mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, she feigns outrage and accuses him of being no better than her attacker. After Guido turns Bernie over to the conductor, Rosie apologizes for being ungrateful, but turns down his dinner invitation. Bernie returns and complains to Rosie that he had to bribe the conductor to get free. Seeing that Rosie has softened her attitude toward “such a nice guy” as Guido, Bernie reminds her that he personally has “everything tied up” in Cutler’s deal to stop Guido from getting to San Francisco. When Guido joins Rosie in the dining car, they are handcuffed together and kidnapped by a fake FBI team, taken off the train, and put aboard a helicopter. The main kidnapper calls Cutler to say he is holding Guido for a $1 million ransom, then calls his men and orders them to kill Rosie and ship her body to Cutler to show he means business. At the ransom house, Rosie discovers that their two captors are making only $10,000 apiece, even though they “hold all the cards,” and laughs at them for not dealing directly with Cutler and taking all the money. When the men unlock Rosie’s handcuff so she can call Cutler, Guido knocks them down, and he and Rosie jump out the window, climb on a horse, and ride away. The pursuing gunmen shoot the horse, but Guido steals a pickup truck and evades the kidnappers by using tricks he learned from movies starring actor Steve McQueen. The boss kidnapper follows them in a helicopter, however, and recaptures them, but Guido forces the pilot to crash-land. When he picks up Rosie’s handbag to give it to her, Cutler’s power of attorney agreement falls out, tipping him to her scheme, and he walks away without her. Rosie flies ahead to San Francisco, but as she looks at a dinner check with Guido’s signature that she had stolen on the train, she feels a twinge of regret. In a Texas country bar, Guido meets Lucy and gets drunk with her, but when they go to her place, someone knocks him out and leaves him in an alley. Later, as Guido tries to buy a bus ticket, he realizes his money is gone and returns to the bar to tell Lucy he wants his money back. An older man, Duane Hawkins, comes to Lucy’s aid and starts a barfight that ends with the sheriff throwing everyone in jail. Duane sobers up and apologizes for getting Guido into trouble, saying he got drunk because the bank took away his ranch. When Guido makes his allotted phone call to Rosie instead of a local lawyer, he hears a personal message of apology on her answering machine. He tells the sheriff he is a billionaire, but his money is in California and he cannot pay his bail until later. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Rosie forges Guido’s name on the power of attorney, hoping Cutler will stop trying to kill him, but when she delivers the papers to Cutler, he realizes the signature is phony. Duane and Guido stage a fight in jail and make a break. Stealing a car, Guido leads the sheriff and his deputies into a Demolition Derby that destroys every car but his. When they arrive at Duane’s foreclosed ranch, the house has been torn down, but Guido promises he will get his property back. They go to a neighbor’s house, where Guido calls Rosie, but Cutler is holding her prisoner. He offers Guido the choice between saving her life and claiming the billion dollars, and Guido says if Rosie is safe by noon tomorrow when he arrives in town, Cutler can keep the money. Cutler rejects the offer, telling Guido that Rosie will be at Shoshone Point in the Grand Canyon. Duane and Guido borrow the neighbor’s car and head north. As Leopold Lacy accompanies Rosie to the Grand Canyon on a private jet, she taunts him for doing Cutler’s dirty work and making himself vulnerable. Though Lacy is troubled by her words, he turns Rosie over to two thugs when they land. At the Grand Canyon, the thugs tie Rosie to a rock at Shoshone Point, high above the canyon floor, to lure Guido and Duane into a trap, but the heroes dispatch them and save her. Returning to the airstrip, Guido, Duane and Rosie find Lacy waiting and convince him to fly them to San Francisco. At the Falcon Finance luncheon ceremony at the Embarcadero Center, Cutler addresses the stockholders as a large clock on the wall edges toward twelve noon. Guido parachutes out of the jet above the city, lands in a park, grabs and then wrecks a bicycle, hops a cable car, and makes a last-minute dash into the luncheon as Cutler tells the crowd about the sad death of Guido Falcone. Everyone erupts in cheers as Guido leaps on the stage and claims his empire. He appoints Duane the head of Falcon’s board of the directors, and puts all the people who helped him during his trip across America on the board. Guido grasps Rosie’s hand and they leave the room.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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