Hot Millions, 1968. It stars Peter Ustinov as a cockney con-artist/embezzler who inveigles a job with a corporation in order to use their state-of-the-art computer system to make himself rich. He meets a daffy secretary played by Maggie Smith. She becomes attracted to the shy but funny Ustinov with whom she shares an interest in music. The two of them deliver a sweet scene wherein Smith tells him she wants to marry him. He says he’ll do so if, when she cuts a deck of cards, the Queen of Hearts turns up. She cuts and cuts the cards, but no Queen appears. Ustinov, who loves her as much as she does him but can’t say so, keeps giving her chance after chance with the cards–until the law of averages finally kicks in and the Queen appears.
The two get married. This greatly annoys Ustinov’s co-worker, played by Bob Newhart, his rival for the secretary’s affections. Meanwhile, the embezzler is jetting around the continent setting up dummy branches of the corporation from which he surreptitiously collects great sums of money. He’s eventually found out, but his now pregnant wife, who had more smarts than any of them had given her credit for, finds an interesting and mutually-agreeable solution.
That surface description may not sound very interesting, but I found myself drawn in via the quirky relationship between Peter Ustinov and Maggie Smith. Karl Malden plays Ustinov’s pill-popping boss. Cesar Romero has a small role as a Brazilian customs inspector. So disgusted is he to find a can of instant coffee in Malden’s luggage–instant coffee in Brazil!–that he makes him empty the can into the waste basket.
If you want to see a comedy that takes its time, building to a completely logical climax; one that remains completely believable while poking gentle fun at human foibles and failings, you’ll like Hot Millions.