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 clues indicate that the time was after 1912 and before WWI. The American flag at the consulate has 48 stars, which became official on July 4, 1912. Also, there are very few automobiles, which although not entirely common, were around in 1912 London. By 1915 and 1916 automobiles were quite common. The costumes and other timeframe indicators suggest the time of the film must be mid to Autumn 1912. At this time, the actual exchange rate would have been one British Pound equaling $4.70. So a 1 million pound note would be worth about $4.7 million dollars. There are several sources to confirm early 20th century pound to dollar exchange rates. See more »
When Henry Adams is chasing the bank note you can clearly see modern telephone manhole covers on the pavement and television aerials on the rooftops. 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.
See more »
The Million Pound Note finds its way into the hands of a penniless American sailor who hasn't a pence to his name as he arrives in the United Kingdom at the turn of the last century. Gregory Peck who plays the sailor by chance runs into two elderly English brothers, Ronald Squires and Wilfrid Hyde-White, both filthy rich and are having an academic discussion around money.
They give Peck a million pound note from the Bank of England and the idea is to present himself as an eccentric American millionaire and for one month live off the reputation of that note. Peck's not to pay one shilling or break the note in any way. He's to live strictly on credit for that month, live I might add in a posh London hotel, typically posh for the 1900 or so.
Before I watched The Million Pound Note tonight I saw a variation on the same theme in Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts goes to a chic Rodeo Drive store in Beverly Hills and the first time arriving in her hooker working clothes, she's shown the door, but quick. But as Richard Gere said to her, they don't respect people, but credit cards yes, the higher the spending limit, the better.
The Million Pound Note was Gregory Peck's first venture into comedy and if you're looking for a lot of gags and belly laughs, skip this film. What you will find is a nice piece of whimsical humor where Peck's essential decency is kind of turned on itself for laughs. He's perfectly willing to be an guinea pig as the two old gents will give him enough money to get back to America.
But in this as in so many films, Peck doesn't count on falling in love with young aristocrat Jane Griffiths. She doesn't mind him being penniless or so she tells him, but snooty aunt Joyce Grenfell sure does when word comes out Peck's a fake.
The Million Pound Note is a good film with Peck in a perfectly suited character for himself. And it proves the old adage that millionaires are eccentric and paupers are just crazy.
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