The Millionairess (1972) BBC Play of the Month Season 8, Episode 1

By: Alex Phuong (A Toast) –

George Bernard Shaw was one of the greatest and most influential writers of all time.  His timeless plays include Man and Superman, Major Barbara, and of course, Pygmalion, which formed the basis for My Fair Lady (1964).  In fact, Shaw is the only person to have won an Academy Award, for his screenplay for Pygmalion (1938), and the Nobel Prize.  Shaw wrote several plays that continue to stand the test of time, and one of his funniest plays is The Millionairess.

A Toast!

The incomparable Maggie Smith stars in this BBC production as Epifania, one of Shaw’s most unique heroines who just happens to be the richest woman in England (not to mention the entire world).  Despite her wealth, this millionairess has to deal with economic issues because of her profligate husband and a chance encounter with an Egyptian doctor (played by Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame).  Shaw provides mordant social commentary on twentieth century Britain because of how money oftentimes dictated who married whom during his own historical era.  Besides the concerns about money and marriage, this BBC adaptation is very funny because of its ironic (and sometimes occasionally dark) sense of humor.  This play/film might not be for everyone because of how much the world has changed between the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but it still honors the legacy of one of the greatest authors of all time.

Verdict

What happens when a millionairess who cannot always get whatever she wants even though she is the richest woman in the world?  Can money truly buy happiness?  Are rich people even happy at all?  Bernard Shaw delves deep into these rhetorical questions as he employs sophisticated and literary humor to comment on both British society and human nature itself.

The Millionairess (1972) Bonus Drinking Game

Take a Drink: every time Epifania struts around with her mink scarf.

Drink a Shot: for every scene that consists of a series of still photographs instead of regularly streaming film.

And Purchase Your Drinks Wisely: every time the characters discuss money and use the British currency term “pounds” (and please drink responsibly).

About Alex Phuong

Alex Andy Phuong earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from California State University-Los Angeles in 2015. His love affair with cinema began after discovering Turner Classic Movies in the summer of 2004. His favorite film director is Woody Allen, and his favorite movie star is Kate Winslet.

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