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Just a short review for this one, as it is the third (I think) time that I have read it. I remember the first time I read this book, not long after it was written, and I was howling with laughter. A couple of reads further on, and I still think it’s funny, and I still think that Fielding captured the viewpoint of a particular type of woman in the mid 1990s.

I did feel a bit more cynical about it this time around though, and got annoyed with Bridget for her constant need for approval and her desperation to feel attractive to men. But yes, it’s funny, and I still love the parallels with Pride and Prejudice. Looking forward to rereading the sequel, and reading for the first time the third book in the series.

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Gregory Peck plays Henry Adams, a penniless American sailor who has arrived in London almost by accident.  All he wants is a job where he can earn some honest money, but then two elderly millionaires make a him a strange offer…they give him a £1 million pound note, and tell him that if he returns it to them intact after one month, they will get him any job he chooses.  Henry soon discovers that he doesn’t need to spend money to buy things – simply showing people the note and his apparent wealth is enough for them to give him whatever he wants for free!  (And after all, who has the money to provide change for such a sum?!)  He falls in love with the aristocratic Portia Lansdowne (Jane Griffiths), but inevitably, complications and misunderstandings ensue…

This was rare foray into British film for Gregory Peck, and also a role in a genre that he didn’t often go in for – comedy.  It works well on both levels.  Peck is stunning to look at (always handsome, I think he looked his absolute best in the 1950s), and is perfect as Henry – essentially a very decent and honourable man, who finds his apparent new found wealth places him at odds with his principles.  The British setting works well; the humour of the piece definitely feels eccentrically British.

Great support is given by Jane Griffiths as Portia, the object of Henry’s affection, and Joyce Grenfell as the Duchess of Cromarty (Portia’s aunt, who loves Henry when she thinks he’s rich and soon changes her mind when she realises the truth).  Reginald Beckwith plays Henry’s mute friend Rock, and his role is also a delight.

This isn’t a laugh-out-loud screwball comedy, but it’s charming, sweet and whimsical and very amusing too.  London looks lovely, and so does the main actor!  Definitely worth a watch.

Year of release: 1954

Director: Ronald Neame

Writers: Mark Twain (story), Jill Craigie

Main cast: Gregory Peck, Jane Griffiths, Reginald Beckwith

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