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The song sung by the stodgy old bankers at the Dawes, Tomes, Mousely, Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, led by the "Elder Mr. Dawes" (Dick Van Dyke), to George Banks' two children, Jane and Michael, in an attempt to get Michael Banks to invest his tuppence in the bank. As the song continues the pressure is on George, a junior clerk at the bank, to sway Michael. When Michael finally, and ever so slightly, opens his hand that has the tuppence, the Elder Mr. Dawes takes the tuppence from him. Michael protests very loudly, which causes panic and mayhem. A run on the bank ensues.
The song is not present in the stage musical version of the score.
A verse which Mr. Banks sings in an attempt to convince Michael to invest his money goes like this:
Railways through Africa
Dams across the Nile
Fleets of ocean greyhounds
Majestic, self-amortizing canals
Plantations of ripening tea
has as its origins an essay by C. C. Turner titled 'Money London' in the book edited by G. R. Sims called Living London (London: 1903):
It is not possible to realise without much thought the industrial power that is wrapped up in money London. Railways through Africa, dams across the Nile, fleets of ocean greyhounds, great canals, leagues of ripening corn – London holds the key to all of these, and who can reckon up what beside.