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An impoverished American sailor is fortunate enough to be passing the house of two rich gentlemen who has conceived the crazy idea of distributing a note worth one million pounds. The sailor finds that whenever he tries to use the note to buy something, people treat him as if he is a King and let him have whatever he likes for free. Ultimately, the money proves to be more troublesome than it is worth when it almost costs him his dignity and the woman he loves. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
The £1,000,000 note at the time the film is set, 1903, would be worth approximately $100,000,000 ($100 millon) in 2002. Or £65,000,000 Sterling. (note to imdb. Source of calculation is www.eh.net) See more »
The flag outside the U.S. consulate features 48 stars, although an American flag in 1903 would have had only 45 stars. See more »
Now what about a cycling suit, Mr. Adams ? Cycling is all the rage nowadays. And then of course there is Ascot.
I'm not gonna do any cycling and I'm not gonna do any Ascotting. Sailing is my hobby.
Ah ! The sport of kings. Very right and proper for a personage such as yourself.
I thought racing was the sport of kings ?
Then it ought to be sailing !
[to his assistant]
Nip in the waist a bit.
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Who wants to be a millionaire? Ummm . . . perhaps not Gregory Peck.
When two elderly gentlemen decide to give a million pound note to penniless sailor Henry Adams (played by Gregory Peck) they are doing so because they have a bet on the outcome. Adams is allowed the note for a month and if he does not break it then he will be afforded every assistance from the gentlemen in gaining employment and getting back on his feet. Just like Brewster's Millions but the complete opposite (know what I mean?). One man believes that the note will never need broken to allow the holder a life of luxury while the other feels that indeed it will, and may indeed cause some problems. Adams soon finds that the note has it's advantages, not least how it affords him the chance to meet Portia Lansdowne (played by Jane Griffiths), but it's not long until the problems start to amass as quickly as the fawning tradesmen.
Watching this, as I did, in March 2009 puts an unexpected spin on a little, otherwise unremarkable, movie. Of course the morals are all here; lessons concerning greed, money being the root of all evil, how you can't buy happiness, how the clothes do not maketh the man, etc, etc, etc. BUT it now also stands as an interesting and disconcertingly realistic analogy to the kind of blind faith and money worship that led most of the civilised world right to the edge of one of the bleakest global economies in modern history. Seeing how the power of one man's name can affect a market, seeing the credit that can be built up based on one small detail, seeing one man carrying the hopes and financial worries of entire crowds on his shoulders, all of these moments make you think about the way our world is powered by engines greased with cash from all directions.
Based on the story by Mark Twain (The Million Pound Bank Note) and directed with workman-like ability by Ronald Neame, the modern view on this movie may never have been foreseen but it's an undeniable added facet for those who a)enjoy fun, slight movies and b) are still wondering quite where large sums of our money disappeared to.
See this if you like: Brewster's Millions, Trading Places, Blank Check.
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