Easy Money is an anthology film following four different sets of people in Britain who take a gamblin’ risk and end up winning the football pools.
Based on a play by Arnold Ridley, the film was written for the screen by Muriel and Sydney Box (1945’s The Seventh Veil). Director Bernard Knowles works with a wide variety of players throughout the four segments including Petula Clark, David Tomlinson, Dennis Price and Guy Rolfe.
The first segment follows a content but financially struggling suburban family. Patriarch Philip (Jack Warner) is upset that the family doesn’t have enough money for him to continue playing cricket. The tables turn for the family when they come to believe that they’ve won the football pool, but the win only leads to increased tensions in the home.
The narration in the beginning of this segment is a bit heavy-handed, explaining every little thing – even things the audience could have deduced without any narration.
This clears up pretty quickly, though, and we begin to familiarize ourselves with the likable, normal family that is set up in the story’s opening.
The performances in this segment are convincing; the cast seems like an actual family rather than actors on a screen.
The first segment packs a few decent laughs and lots of snarky arguments, getting wrapped up in a cute and bright ending.
Segment 1 score: 3/5
The second segment of Easy Money follows a clerk who desires to quit his monotonous job, and hopes that winning the football pool will allow him to do so.
This portion of the film is not as immediately gripping as the first and never completely grabs the viewer. It has a remarkably dull tone to it that doesn’t allow the viewer to become invested in the characters at all.
The end to this segment also comes quite abruptly, making it feel like a mere “filler” rather than a complete story that fits in the anthology.
Segment 2 score: 1/5
The third story in the film is higher on suspense and criminal intrigue, which is a big positive and makes it the most interesting of the four stories.
A night club singer (Greta Gynt) is dating a coupon checker (Dennis Price), and they come up with a plan to embezzle the winnings of the football pool rather than trying to win it outright.
Gynt plays her best Rita Hayworth in a character that is obviously written as a play off of Gilda. She even wears the same outfit as Rita, with the long, dark gloves and matching dress. Gynt’s song is wonderful and has some very snappy lyrics (“Her language chills your marrow!”). In combination with Gynt’s natural charm and screen presence, these performance scenes – and the segment as a whole – are very enjoyable to watch. Segment 3 score: 4/5
The film’s final episode has a comedic spin to it. A disgruntled bass player takes his football pool winnings and leaves the orchestra because he thinks his instrument is under-appreciated, but he soon comes to realize that he misses taking the stage.
The orchestral music in this segment is lovely. The characters, especially the main character, are very likable. There’s a lot to love about this tiny story.
The only major problem is that the story is too tiny. It feels remarkably shorter and less “full” than the previous three portions of the film.
Still, it is an enjoyable segment and ends the anthology as a whole on a positive note.
Segment 4 score: 3/5
Overall score: 2.75/5
Easy Money is available for viewing on Netflix Instant.
What a strange little idea for a film! Cool, though, that the crime segment got your highest rating of the four. And speaking of ‘Gilda’, I actually have it on order right now from Amazon!