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Man with a Million (1954)

The Million Pound Note (original title)
Approved | | Comedy, Romance | 18 June 1954 (USA)
Two rich British men offer a penniless American a loan, without telling him that the amount is £1,000,000, and this in the form of a single banknote.



(story), (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronald Squire ...
Joyce Grenfell ...
A.E. Matthews ...
Maurice Denham ...
Jonathan Reid
Reginald Beckwith ...
Brian Oulton ...
John Slater ...
Wilbur Evans ...
American Ambassador
Hartley Power ...
George Devine ...
Chop House Proprietor
Bryan Forbes ...
Gudrun Ure ...
Renie (as Ann Gudrun)
Hugh Wakefield ...
Roderick Montpelier (as Wilfrid Hyde White)


An impoverished American sailor is fortunate enough to be passing the house of two rich gentlemen who have 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 like 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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Great fun... you can bank on it! See more »


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

18 June 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Man with a Million  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)


(Colour by) (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The details of the £1,000,000 note are shown In the background to the opening credits of the film: June 20th 1903 London. 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 »


Mr. Reid: Now what about a cycling suit, Mr. Adams ? Cycling is all the rage nowadays. And then of course there is Ascot.
Henry Adams: I'm not gonna do any cycling and I'm not gonna do any Ascotting. Sailing is my hobby.
Mr. Reid: Ah ! The sport of kings. Very right and proper for a personage such as yourself.
Henry Adams: I thought racing was the sport of kings ?
Mr. Reid: [unperturbed] Then it ought to be sailing !
[to his assistant]
Mr. Reid: Nip in the waist a bit.
See more »


Referenced in Trading Places (1983) See more »


The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo
Written by Fred Gilbert
Sung by Gregory Peck
See more »

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User Reviews

I'm not gonna do any cycling and I'm not gonna do any Ascotting. Sailing is my hobby.
22 November 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Also known as Man With A Million, The Million Pound Note is based on a short story by Mark Twain called "The Million Pound Bank Note". It's directed by Ronald Neame {The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie/The Poseidon Adventure } and stars Gregory Peck {To Kill A Mockingbird/Cape Fear}, Ronald Squire, Joyce Grenfell, Jane Griffiths & Reginald Beckwith .

It's Edwardian England and American seaman Henry Adams ( Peck) is stranded and down on his luck. That is until he becomes embroiled in an unusual wager between two wealthy, eccentric brothers, Oliver (Ronald Squire) and Roderick Montpelier (Wilfrid Hyde-White). Giving him an envelope, they tell him that it contains some money but that he must not open it till 14.00. Thinking they are crack pots he goes along with it anyway, and much to his amazement the envelope contains a one million pound note (£1,000,000). It transpires that Oliver believes that the mere existence of the note will enable Adams to obtain whatever he needs without spending a penny, while Roderick contends that it would actually have to be spent for it to be of any use. Hence the bet is on and a promise of a job for Henry if he can go for a month without breaking into the note.

Chirpy yet astutely cynical is The Million Pound Note. The laughs come courtesy of the ridiculous way that people react to money and those that have plenty of it. As Henry {a wonderfully cast Peck} moves from penniless bum to upstanding wealthy gentleman, without spending anything, the moral of the story is blatantly obvious. Very much a forerunner to the Eddie Murphy starrer Trading Places in 1983, it also has similarities with Twain's own The Prince And The Pauper, themes that always produce interesting results as regards the human condition. There's the obligatory romance angle in the piece, which thankfully doesn't cloy the picture at all, and Neame has an array of interesting characters from which to keep the story zippy {watch out for a delightful turn from Reginald Beckwith as Rock}. A real safe recommendation this one, across the board it works well, both as a comedy, and as a wry observation. 7/10

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