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Submitted by Mark Fuller

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

By Paul Trench

From: Evening Standard
12 June 1943

He is not called Colonel Blimp in the film, and he is evidently a rather distant relative of David Low's cartoon character (a cadet branch of the family, perhaps). Thus, the title of the picture is misleading.

     The hero is Clive Candy, an old Harrovian who has won the Victoria Cross in the Boer War. We see him spending his leave in Berlin in an unauthorised attempt to counteract anti-British propaganda. In an amusing cafe scene, Clive insults the German army. A duel is arranged. In the selection of an opponent, the lot falls on Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff, a mild, pleasant Uhlan officer. The preliminaries to the sabre match make a witty and dramatic sequence.

     Meanwhile, British diplomacy has found an official pretext for the duel in the startled person of Edith Hunter, an attractive English governess, who was with Clive in the cafe. Edith is officially requested to visit the nursing home where both Clive and Theo are recovering from sabre cuts. The duellists become friends for life. Theo marries Edith. Clive returns to England realising too late that he is also in love with her.

     Instead of a possession, Edith becomes an obsession. Twice afterwards Clive is attracted by girls who remind him of Edith. Clive loses Theo's friendship in 1918 when the Uhlan officer becomes a prisoner of war in England, but regains it when Theo returns to this country as an anti-Hitlerite refugee. It is Theo who comforts Clive when General Candy V.C. is no longer considered of use to his country.

     Two weaknesses must be noted at this point. First, Clive Candy's supposed Blimpishness resides in the fact that he is "captured" in a Turkish bath several hours before the time arranged for a Home Guard invasion exercise. Now, there is more than one good reason why such exercises must begin at the official zero hour if they are to have any value. Nothing would be easier or more pointless than to "capture" a Home Guard before he left his office.

     Second, the Turkish bath sequence is shown at the beginning of the picture as well as at the end. This device is unjustified, especially in a picture that runs for 2 3/4 hours.

     There is much on the credit side, however. Roger Livesey is thoroughly likeable as Clive Candy. He "ages" astonishingly well. Anton Walbrook is at his best as the German. Deborah Kerr is delightful in the three roles of Edith Hunter and the girls who resembled her.

     Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, who made the film, have maintained their high standard of dialogue and direction. Technicolor is used with excellent effect. This is not a great picture, but it is exceptionally good entertainment.

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