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Friday June 22nd 2018

The Million Pound Note (Man With A Million) | 1954

The Million Pound Note location: 47 Belgrave Square, London SW1
The Million Pound Note location: The grand Belgravia house: 47 Belgrave Square, London SW1

Gregory Peck is Henry Adams, a penniless American in London given, for a bet, the unchangeable note of the title, by the upper crust Montpelier brothers (Wilfrid Hyde White and Ronald Squire) in this adaptation of a Mark Twain story – a forerunner of Eddie Murphy’s 1983 comedy Trading Places.

The setting is Belgravia, the extremely posh area of central London around the grand, early 19th Century Belgrave Square, most of which is part of the Grosvenor Estate, owned by the Duke of Westminster (one of whose titles is Viscount Belgrave). Although it's one of the most expensive neighbourhoods in the world, the barely distinguishable cream-painted properties, bristling with video surveillance and studded with embassy plaques, are largely owned by absentee foreign nationals, and it's a glumly dispiriting area to walk around (tube: Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly Line).

The film harks back to a livelier time when Belgravia was synonymous with wealthy gentlemen and their families. The Montpeliers’ mansion is 47 Belgrave Square, SW1, on the northeast side. A sudden gust of wind sees Adams chasing the vital but unspendable note down Belgrave Square and around the corner into Montrose Place.

Other screen residents of the square have included Phileas Fogg (David Niven) in Around The World In Eighty Days and actress Anna Kalman (Ingrid Bergman) in glossy 1958 romance Indiscreet.