Man with a Million (1954)

91-92 mins | Comedy | June 1954

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HISTORY

This film's working title and British release title was The Million Pound Note . In his autobiography, director Ronald Neame stated that United Artists participated in the film's financing by covering the cost of Gregory Peck's salary in return for North American distribution rights. As noted in the film's pressbook, several London locations were utilized, including Belgrave Square, Hyde Park, Saville Row and the Treasury Building. ... More Less

This film's working title and British release title was The Million Pound Note . In his autobiography, director Ronald Neame stated that United Artists participated in the film's financing by covering the cost of Gregory Peck's salary in return for North American distribution rights. As noted in the film's pressbook, several London locations were utilized, including Belgrave Square, Hyde Park, Saville Row and the Treasury Building. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1954
p. 3.
Film Daily
2 Jun 1954
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 1954
p. 3.
Life
5 Apr 1954
pp. 105-108
Los Angeles Times
1 Sep 1954.
---
New York Times
29 Jun 1954
p. 21.
Newsweek
31 May 1954
p. 86.
Time
31 May 1954
p. 72.
Variety
13 Jan 1954
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Ronald Neame - John Bryan Production
A Ronald Neame--John Bryan Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dressing
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp
Mus cond
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod controller for Pinewood Studios
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The £1,000,000 Bank-Note" by Mark Twain in his The £1,000,000 Bank-Note and Other New Stories (New York, 1893).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Million Pound Note
Release Date:
June 1954
Premiere Information:
London opening: 7 January 1954
New York opening: 28 June 1954
Production Date:
began mid April 1953 at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, England
Copyright Claimant:
Group Film Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
18 June 1954
Copyright Number:
LP3802
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
91-92
Length(in reels):
10
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16891
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

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 ... +


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.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.