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UK 1953
Directed by
Ronald Neame
90 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Million Pound Note

Based on Mark Twain's short story of the same name this de-light-fully frothy comedy tells the story of two eccentric and extremely wealthy brothers, Oliver and Roderick Montpelier (Ronald Squire and Wilfred Hyde-White) who wager that the mere possession of an uncashed million pound banknote would be sufficient to guarantee a poor man everything he needed. They select a penniless young American, Henry Adams (Gregory Peck) stranded in London to test their theory.

The outcome is a lot of fun with many English character actors of the time including Joyce Grenfell as the Duchess of Cromarty, A.E. Matthews as the Duke of Frognell, Wilfrid Hyde-White as Roderick Montpelier and Maurice Denham as Mr. Reid doing typically fine work, what in what is both a gentle satire of human vanity and hypocrisy and an amusing dig at the upper class and their hangers-on. Peck is no comedic actor but with so many around him who are it matters little. Ronald Neame skilfully directs proceedings whilst Geoffrey Unsworth's Technicolour cinematography gives Victorian-era England a wonderful gleam.

FYI: Although most people will recall John Landis's Trading Places (1983) for its comparable idea it was re-made in 1994 as A Million For Juan (d. Paul Rodriguez).




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