Passport to Pimlico (Henry Cornelius, 1949)

09Jan11

Stanley Holloway (Arthur Pemberton), Paul Dupuis (Duke of Burgundy), John Slater (Frank Huggins). Screenplay by T. E. B. Clarke. Directed by Henry Cornelius. Rating: U. Running time: 84 minutes.

Ealing comedy about an area of London that secedes from Great Britain, Passport to Pimlico sounds like a barrel of laughs but turns out to be unfortunately flat. The bizarre scenario arises upon the discovery of buried documents showing that, by Royal decree, the land in fact forms part of the nation of Burgundy. At a time of war and rationing, the locals seize the opportunity to rid themselves of British law enforcement and, quite simply, throw a party, as pub curfew hours are forgotten and the black market floods in, the people of Pimlico safe in the knowledge that the police can’t do anything. It’s a shame, then, that despite the potential for some neatly sized giggles, nothing results from this situation other than repeated lines reemphasising the state of affairs over and over. A woman shouting ‘This is Burgundy, not Britain!’ doesn’t tickle the funny bone the first time, never mind after the tenth hearing of it. Once the absurdity is set up there seems little inspiration was present to take the story any further, instead leaving us to simply watch it fade out. A poor showing from the creators of The Ladykillers.

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