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
Gad, Sir, He Had To Die
21 June 1943
Ever since his birth in the Evening Standard cartoons of David Low, Blimp has been the gaseous, walrus-mustached symbol of British muddling. Blimp paid reluctant attention to earth-shaking events as he waddled to the insular comforts of his club to find good sherry and claret, a deep leather chair and reassuring words in the London Times. When he spoke it was in gouty grunts, and his favourite words were "Gad, Sir". Usually this expressed his disapproval of anything which might change the way things had always been done, and, by Gad, Sir, always would be done. Britons without blinders found too many Colonel Blimps in high positions.
Whether Colonel Blimp has come to his end under the government of Winston Churchill only historians can decide. But last week his body, semiofficially, was laid to rest in the longest, most expensive cinema ever made in Britain. Present to applaud The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp at London's Odeon Theatre were Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, many another bigwig.
A young Home Guard officer decides to show his Blimpish superiors that the younger generation is fed up with playing old- fashioned war games. The young officer's orders are to begin the war at midnight, but he and his men start at 6p.m., rush to London and capture the Home Guard general in a Turkish bath. The young officer looks down on the towel wrapped about Blimp's droopy paunch and says "Well, all I can say, Sir, is that when Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach..." From his full, majestic nude height Blimp replies: "Let me tell you that in 40 years time you will be an old gentleman too, and if your belly keeps pace with your swollen head you'll have a bigger one than any of us."
The picture then fades into a chronology of Blimp's life, shows with such gentle sympathy how he grew fat muddling for Britain that Blimp emerges as a likeable human being. Few in the audience could hate the Colonel Blimp on the screen. Wrote Blimp-despising columnist A.J. Cummings in the liberal News Chronicle; "For my part I fell in love with Blimp - a witty and quite sensible soldier, who would lose a war with dignity and might win it with a little luck."
Long Live Blimp!
But in the Daily Mail, thin-skinned Ward Price devoted an entire outraged column to the picture of Blimp's life: "To depict British officers as stupid, complacent, self-satisfied and ridiculous may be legitimate comedy in peacetimes, but it is disastrously bad propaganda in times of war.....In such times as these, when the respect and confidence of other countries are of vital importance to us, we cannot afford to put out a burlesque figure like this Colonel Blimp to go round the world.....a personification of those British officers who....gave and are still giving such good service to their country"
Which led other Britons to wonder if Blimp was dead after all.