ARTICLES


Funny Money, by Grant Duff


Often when films are made where the title involves an indication of a large sum of money, a promotional effort is made involving the circulation of "funny money" that mentions the name of the film. Sometimes the funny money has another function that may or may not be directly indicated in its design.

It is fairly easy to find out these days when films were made, especially if they involve big name stars. A simple search on the World Wide Web using the film's title and the star's name will usually suffice.

In this case, It's Only Money starring Jerry Lewis was shot in 1962. Lewis played the role of an electrician who unknowingly inherits a fortune and has people who want to kill him so they can get it. The picture is rated fairly highly in so much as it has more of a plot than the usual Lewis films usually had.

It is much harder to determine if and when the film was shown here in Vancouver and the currency distributed ($1, $10, $100 and $1,000). The notes were picked up at a dealer's shop here and it would seem likely that it was.

A physical search of the Vancouver Sun newspaper reels in the Vancouver Public Library revealed that the film had an extensive run at the Circle Theatre at Knight and Main Streets in 1963, almost from the day Lawrence of Arabia premiered here, to the day To Kill A Mockingbird opened.

It was part of a double bill feature. The other film was Girls, Girls, Girls!! starring Elvis Presley. They ran together from March 18-23, 1963.

The promotional aspect of the film may have tied in with some kind of prize winning contest or lottery. This type of event could not then be advertised in the press although it was tolerated.

Later on, one can find examples of items where one can find out if one won anything in a contest by looking at a company's newspaper advertisments. The promotion could have had the co-operation of the theatre and/or some local merchant(s).

To win you would have to have the right serial number on the note. Curiously, there are two types of serial number - the $1 having five digits and the rest having six. One would have thought that the $1,000 note would have been the five digit ones.

The $1,000 note is the only one that does not keep a kind of humourous connection to the then current respective designs on American currency.

Perhaps this fact is due to the public not using the bill very much. Perhaps also the large space on the backs of the notes was put there to provide space for a merchant's promotion.

A competition of this type would encourage the movie goer to keep the items and they would therefore circulate out in the open for a little while.

I do not think they had a major influence in this film's showing here in Vancouver.