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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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Submitted by Mark Fuller

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

From: Monthly Film Bulletin
Vol.10 (1943)

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Producers: The Archers
Cast: Anton Walbrook, Deborah Kerr, Roger Livesey
Technicolor 163 mins.

Patriotic romantic drama. Clive Candy, a young Army officer, wins the V.C. in the South African War and then in a quixotic mood sets out for Berlin to allay the rumours of British atrocities, which are rife. As a result he has to fight a duel, from which he forms a lifelong friendship with his opponent, Lt. Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff of the 2nd Uhlans, to whom he loses the woman he loves. In the 1914 war he rises to the rank of Brigadier, and, coming home, marries a young V.A.D. who reminds him of his first love. When the present war breaks out he is a widower but still in the Army, and his German friend, now a refugee, is living with him. Before the film ends he is retired, joins the Home Guard; but even there turns out to be too clean a fighter for modern ideas.

     The virtue of this film lies in the skill with which the joint authors, producers and directors - Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger - have taken the butt of the cartoonists and turned him into the sympathetic figure as played by Roger Livesey. Its message may be obscure, but its emotional appeal is high - a fact which is due in no small measure to Deborah Kerr's presentation of the three women in Candy's life. Anton Walbrook manages to make the German officer-cum-refugee a sympathetic figure and grows old gracefully. The colour is admirable; the script and its delivery by the actors, brilliant; the English atmosphere of understatement well maintained throughout. Each individual part is carefully built up and the film as a whole (if a trifle unsatisfying in retrospect) repays the evident care which has been lavished upon it.

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