Passport to Pimlico is the first film to be screening in the Made in Britain season.
Restored in all of its 4:3 ratio and black and white glory, Passport to Pimlico remerges as a product that is decidedly of its time and yet it is still as enjoyable, relevant, clever, and downright funny as it always has been, even over sixty years after its original release. Made at a time when you would see the news in the cinema, a newsreel sequence details the whole transformation of Pimlico from a small suburb in England to a part of France, watched by the local urchins who started the whole thing off in the first place by inadvertently setting off an unexploded World War 2 bomb. The explosion revealed a surprise horde of treasure to Arthur Pemberton (Stanley Holloway) and his daughter Connie (Betty Warren). But this treasure meant more than just financial gain for the locals, it also revealed that Pimlico wasn’t English at all, but had its own nationality dominated by the long forgotten Burgundy rule. What better excuse for the locals to ditch post-War rationing and set up their own country? They even manage to find the heir to Burgundy nobility, the newly restored, and eminently reasonable Duke of Burgundy (Paul Dupuis) himself.
Combining a political and social story with lots of humour, Passport to Pimlico is intrinsically British in its construction and execution. The plot is about a neighbourhood who have the guts to stand up to the authorities, even though they are the plucky underdogs who don’t really have a hope of succeeding. But, with stiff-upper-lips at the ready, despite the many setbacks the encounter, they soldier on regardless. Like many of Ealing’s films, most notably The Man in the White Suit (1951), it’s not just about the comedy, there is often a social significance to the story, and here it makes a statement about the post-war society as well as political bureaucracy. The wider population coming together to support the increasingly beleaguered group is strangely uplifting. Humour, banter and a sweet romantic sub-plot combine to make a film you can still toast a pint of ale to – even after England has had to enforce its closing hours. This is Burgundy, after all, there are no licensing regulations here.
Check the link to find find where Passport to Pimlico is screening near you.