Saturday, 22 September 2012

The Review - The Million Pound Bank Note

The other night Luke and I watched the 1954 British comedy The Million Pound Note (which was released as Man with a Million and Big Money in the US). Luke’s parents had bought it for me a while back, and now we've finally gotten around to watching it. The movie is actually based on a short story by Mark Twain called The Million Pound Bank Note.

The movie, set in 1903, stars Gregory Peck (he’s so handsome) as American seaman Henry Adams, who is stranded in London without any money. He happens to cross the path of two unbelievably wealthy and eccentric brothers, Oliver and Roderick, who are having a wager of an unusual sort. They persuade the Bank of England to issue a one million pound banknote, which they present to Adams in an envelope (only telling him that it contains some money). The reason for this is that Oliver believes the mere existence of the note will enable the possessor to obtain whatever he needs, while Roderick contends that it would actually have to be spent to be of any use. Once Adams gets over the shock of discovering how much the note is worth, he tries to return it to the brothers, but is told that they have left for a month. He then finds a letter in the envelope that explains the wager and promises him a job if he can return the note intact at the end of the month.

Although the movie is described as comedy, I personally found it was more of a social commentary or satire on how the amount of money one has, or appears to have, completely changes people's attitudes. Henry Adams comes straight off the ship looking like he hasn’t got two shillings to rub together, and in fact he hasn’t! The only money he has is the million pound note, which he determined not to spend. I found the movie quite stressful to watch. But all in all, it wasn’t a bad film, and is still so relevant to today’s society. In many ways, The Million Pound Note tells a similar story to My Fair Lady; both these films are about a poor person suddenly raised to the pinnacle of London society, and both use this plot to focus on class divisions and people's reactions to money and status.

Gregory Peck is quite endearing as Henry Adams, and all in all it was a pleasant way to pass a quiet Sunday evening. However, it does make you think: what would you do with a million dollars?

Until next time :)

1 comment:

  1. Great Review! So nice to read a Kiwi blog!