The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
DVD Review by David Stubbs

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 1943 film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp was intended to bolster the propaganda effort. Colonel Blimp was a cartoon character conceived to parody the hidebound, elder military types whose attitudes towards war were irrelevant when it came to fighting the Nazis, a point made in the first few minutes of the movie when a platoon of young troops cheekily capture walrus-faced General Candy (Roger Livesey) during a training exercise, oblivious to his splutterings that "war starts at midnight!". Thereafter, Powell and Pressburger forge a more complex portrayal of Candy, following his career over 40 years, from the Boer War through World War I to the present-day (1943). There are strong, touching reminders of Goodbye, Mr Chips in his relationship with a German officer, played by Anton Walbrook, (a reflection, perhaps of Powell's own alliance with the German Pressburger?), while Deborah Kerr recurs in three different roles, reminding Candy of the lifelong love he has missed out on. By the end, Candy's inability to recognise that the Nazis are not playing by his own, proper military rules is reaffirmed but more sympathetically. No one could mistake Powell and Pressburger's patriotic intentions here yet Winston Churchill was sufficiently disconcerted by the film to try to have it banned. It wasn't--and it proved a huge, deserved success.

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