Banking on a good film: The Bank of England in movies

The Bank of England goes Hollywood? Learn about our collections connections to films in our blog.
Published on 28 July 2023


Ellie Paton, Collections Manager

When you think of the Bank of England, you probably don’t think of movies, but you might be surprised to learn how often the Bank gets mentioned or appears in films. Let’s look at some of our silver screen connections through items in our collection. You might even find a recommendation for your next watch!

1. The Day They Robbed the Bank of England

Bank in movies film poster for The Day They Robbed the Bank of England

Film poster for The Day They Robbed the Bank of England, 1960. Directed by John Guillermin. Produced by Summit Film. Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. Bank of England Museum: 2020/054

Love a crime caper? The Day They Robbed the Bank of England tells the story of a group of Irish Revolutionaries who plan to steal gold from the Bank’s vaults to fund their political offensive. If you like complex plots that include sewer-hunters, tugboats, rat infestations, extensive pickaxe scenes and unrequited love, then boy do I have a film for you. This all-star cast includes Aldo Ray, Elisabeth Sellars and Peter O'Toole and is the ultimate escapist treat.

2. Die Fälscher [The Counterfeiters]

Bank in movies film poster for Die Flscher

Film poster for Die Fälscher [The Counterfeiters], 2007. Directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky. Produced by Aichholzer Film, Magnolia Filmproduktion and Babelsberg Studio. Distributed by Filmladen and Universum Film. Bank of England Museum: 2023/010

A fan of drama? Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters) tells the story of Adolf Burger, who was imprisoned in the Second World War in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. A talented forger, he was forced to make counterfeit banknotes as part of Operation Bernhard. The plan was to release these counterfeits throughout Europe to disrupt the economy. Loosely based on a true story, these counterfeit banknotes still occasionally get handed in at the Bank of England today and are exceptionally accurate counterfeits!

3. The Million Pound Note

Bank in movies film poster for The Million Pound Note

Film poster for The Million Pound Note, 1954. Directed by Ronald Neame. Produced by Group Film Productions. Distributed by General Film Distributors. Bank of England Museum: D 1993/083/005

Prefer a comedy? The Million Pound Note stars 1950s heart throb Gregory Peck and is based on a Mark Twain novel. It's a comedy about a man who is given a million-pound Bank of England banknote and his adventures trying to spend it. At its heart, it’s a social commentary on how money changes people's behaviour towards each other. There's a great scene where Peck tries to pay for his lunch with a million-pound note. He hands it over, quietly saying: "I'm awfully sorry, but I don't have anything smaller." The waiter, in awe of the note, ends up giving him the meal for free, delighted with having such a well-off customer.

4. Inside Job

Bank in movies film poster for Inside Job

Film poster for Inside Job, 2010. Directed by Charles Ferguson. Produced by Audrey Marrs and Charles Ferguson. Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. Bank of England Museum: 2022/003

Fancy something more factual? Inside Job is a documentary that explores the causes, development and aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Beginning in Iceland in 2000, it explores how a series of financial regulation and trading decisions led to a global recession. Using interviews from experts and explanatory graphics, it breaks down financial concepts into easy to digest pieces. If that isn’t enough to convince you, it’s narrated by Matt Damon whose dulcet tones should win you over.

5. Chaplin's Bank (of laughs)

Bank in movies flashnote for Chaplins Bank

Flashnote for Chaplin’s Bank (of laughs), 1920s. Bank of England Museum: 1993/149

I couldn’t let you go without sharing a flashnote. Flashnotes are a form of advertising made to look like a banknote. This advert for Chaplin’s Bank (of Laughs) Unlimited was mass produced with the names of different cinemas. This example was specifically for the Palais de Luxe cinema in Chorlton-cum-Hardy in Manchester. It was likely produced in 1928, which coincides with the release of The Circus, a silent film following Chaplin's “Little Tramp” as a clown, who discovers that he can only be funny unintentionally.