The lure of a lottery win has captivated people for millennia, so it’s no surprise that films featuring a lottery plotline have been produced long before the introduction of the talkie. Whether they spin it as a rags to riches tale or a morality play about greed, filmmakers have seen cinematic gold in lottery winners. From 1924 to 2014, we take a look back at some of the most intriguing lottery-themed films throughout the decades. Based on Frank Norris’ 1899 novel McTeague, Erich von Stroheim’s silent classic Greed (1924) tells the tale of three people ruined by avarice.
Le Million (1931): Seven years after Greed, director René Clair provided audiences with a far lighter take on winning the lottery with his musical comedy Le Million. The film follows the story of Michel, a poor artist who wins the lottery. When he goes to get the winning ticket from his jacket pocket, he discovers that the jacket is missing, having been given away by his fiancée Beatrice. The jacket goes from criminal to criminal and is finally traced to the opera where it’s being used by a tenor during a performance. An energetic and music-filled chase to recover Michel’s million-florin ticket ensues. Le Million was critically-acclaimed and had a major impact on early sound film and musicals. It’s now part of the Criterion Collection.