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On a bet, a man tries to see how much he can get without breaking a million-pound bank note.
In Edwardian London, two very rich, eccentric brothers, Oliver and Roderick Montpelier, commission their bank to create a million pound note in order to settle a wager. Oliver believes that the mere possession of this symbol of wealth will enable anyone to have anything he wants, without actually cashing the note. Roderick, on the other hand, feels that the prohibition against exchanging the note for cash will render it totally useless. In order to settle their wager, the brothers hire Henry Adams, a New England sailor who has been stranded, penniless, in London and is unable to return home. The brothers present him with an envelope, telling him that it contains a sum of money and that it is to be opened later. Famished, Henry assumes that the envelope contains sufficient cash to cover a hearty meal at a pleasant restaurant. His scruffy appearance, however, banishes him to a back table, where the restaurant owner and his wife eye him suspiciously. When presented with the bill, Henry opens the envelope, discovers the million pound banknote and offers it to the stunned proprietor, who then shows it to a banker dining in the restaurant. The banker confirms that the note is genuine and remarks that the owner must be an eccentric millionaire. The restaurateur and his wife immediately apologize to Henry, saying they are honored by his presence, cancel his bill and bow to him as he leaves. When Henry returns to the Montpeliers' house to question them, he is informed that they have gone abroad for a month. Henry then reads the letter that accompanied the currency. The letter states that the banknote is lent to him for one month and that, if he returns it intact, the brothers will arrange for him to have any job it is within their power to give him. After almost losing the banknote during a chase down a windy street, Henry finds himself outside an elegant tailor's shop and tries to buy a ready-made suit. When the proprietor learns about the million pound note, he, too, imagines that Henry is exceedingly wealthy and provides him with an entire wardrobe on credit and also arranges for him to stay at an exclusive hotel. The hotel manager even ousts a longtime resident, the Duke of Frognal, whose bill is in arrears, from his suite in order to accommodate the odd, American millionaire. Just before Henry arrives at the hotel, the commissionaire mistakes Rock, a mute, circus strongman, for Henry. Upon arriving at the hotel, Henry insists that Rock not be ejected and hires him as a bodyguard and companion. Newspaper articles report the presence of the American with the million pound note and soon Henry and Rock are fashionable men-about-town. Henry is even invited to the American consulate, where he had previously been denied assistance, and the ambassador gives him one hundred pounds and arranges to have him introduced in local society circles. At a reception hosted by the Duchess of Cromarty, Henry meets her niece, Portia Lansdowne, who flirts with him and persuades him to attend an event related to her aunt's favorite charity, the Home for Motherless Babies. At the event, Henry unintentionally bids five thousand pounds in a silent auction and is later inundated with requests from many other charities. Later, when Henry tries to explain to Portia that he is not what he seems to be, she thinks that he is telling her that he is in love with her and they embrace. Meanwhile, the ambassador has introduced Henry to fellow American Lloyd Hastings, who knew Henry's father, and is in dire need of additional capital for an investment he has made in a gold mine. After Henry agrees to let Lloyd use his name in order to raise money, the price for the gold stocks rises very rapidly. Just after Henry has convinced Portia that he is broke, Lloyd interrupts them with the news that Henry has just gained sixteen thousand pounds from the stock he bought in his name. Confused by Henry's financial status and thinking that he is testing the depth of her love, Portia breaks up with him. In the meantime, the Duke of Frognal pays off his hotel bill, but is not permitted to return to his suite. Enraged at being inconvenienced by an American, the duke arranges to have the banknote stolen and hidden, then spreads a rumor that the note no longer exists. After a newspaper reports the story, numerous creditors descend upon Henry and the duchess and her friends regard him as an imposter. Henry swears that he will pay all his bills from his stock earnings, but discovers that the rumor has caused the shares to become worthless. In the hotel's packed lobby, Henry issues an impassioned plea to the stockholders to hold on to their stock for a few days more, but many remain unconvinced. Realizing that his joke has gone far enough, the duke returns the note to Henry just as Portia rushes to his side. Later, after the shares have stabilized and Henry has earned twenty thousand pounds on the stock exchange, he and Portia return the intact banknote to the Montpeliers. Portia tells them that, rich or poor, she is in love with Henry. While the brothers begin to squabble over the role the banknote played in the romance, Henry and Portia drive off in a horse-drawn carriage, with Rock as their coachman.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||London opening: 7 Jan 1954; New York opening: 28 Jun 1954|
|Release Date:||1954||Production Date:||
A Ronald Neame--John Bryan Production
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||United Artists Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono (Western Electric Sound System)||Production Co:||Group Film Productions, Ltd., J. Arthur Rank Organisation, Ltd.|
|Duration(mins):||91-92||Country:||Great Britain and United States|
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My One Million Pound Review
Martyn Jutsum 2017-01-02
I recall seeing this delightful film when I was a young child. On second viewing recently it again filled me with absolute nostalgic pleasure and amusement...
Gregory Peck in 'The Million Pound Note'
I heartily third the motion of Mr. Steen III and Mr. Millican to play this movie again on TCM! Saw this when I was in my early teens, in Hong Kong. I think...
Play It Again TCM!
Mike Millican 2014-04-18
I heartily second the motion of Mr. Steen III to play this movie again TCM! At least then I can get it on my dvr. This is a delightful film, based on a...