Summertime is the perfect time to relax with a cold drink and a good movie. It’s not unusual to see a coin used as a significant prop in the film: here are seven of our favorites.
His Majesty O’Keefe is based on the true story of David O’Keefe, an Irish American captain who ended up on the island of Yap in the South Pacific, which used large stone discs as currency. O’Keefe begins his time in the South Pacific exporting copra, a highly valuable coconut product, but eventually persuades the Yap islanders to mass produce the large Rai stone currency, before being defeated by his own hubris as inflation takes over the Yap economy.
Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most successful franchises of the 21st century. While later movies might have been less well received, the first movie in the series is still a fun watch. The Aztec gold coins (which admittedly bear no resemblance to any real coin) stolen by the crew of the Black Pearl form a central part of the film’s plot, and the machinations of Captain Barbossa to return the coins and restore his crew to full humanity are the core of the adventure.
If you look closely in The Dark Knight, you may notice two unusual things about the coin that Harvey Dent constantly tosses to determine the outcome of an offender. For one thing, the coin has two heads (this allows Dent to threaten criminals without ever committing himself to harming them). The other is that in this movie, unlike other portrayals of the Harvey Dent/Two-Face character, his double-obverse coin is a real coin design: a US Peace Dollar.
Moby-Dick’s mad Captain Ahab, desperate to motivate his men, nails an Ecuadorian gold doubloon to the mast and promises that whoever spots the White Whale first will get the coin. Of course, Ahab himself ends up spotting the whale, due to his obsession, and claims the coin, which does not endear him to his crew.
The King’s Speech was nominated for 12 Oscars and won 4 of them. In this compelling story of King George VI of England and his friendship with speech therapist Lionel Logue, who cures the king of his persistent stammer. Near the beginning of the film, Logue bets the monarch one shilling that he can cure him. The shilling becomes a symbol of their friendship. When the actors playing the King and Logue (Colin Firth and Geoffery Rush, respectively) appeared at the Oscars, Firth gave Rush a pristine George VI shilling that had been given to him for good luck.
Somewhere In Time is not a well-known classic, but it is an interesting time-travel/romance movie in which a coin plays a significant part. A young actor is enjoying some attention after a show, when an old woman bursts in, hands him a locket, and begs him “Come back to me!” After some research, he realizes that not only was she a famous actress decades earlier, but that she was the lovely woman pictured in the locket. By concentrating on the era, he manages to travel back in time, find the young woman, and fall in love. Their love is doomed, though, by a single modern Lincoln cent. (No, we won’t give the whole thing away. Watch the movie.)
If you’re looking for lighter fare, check out Weird Al Yankovic‘s offbeat comedy UHF. In this movie, imaginative dreamer George (played by Al himself) is given a UHF station by his uncle, and the programming results are as odd as you might expect. Rife with movie references, quotable lines, and a truly fun story, the climax depends on a single error cent.
That’s our list! Do you have favorite movies with coin scenes? Tell us about it in the comments!