The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)




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Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's much-lauded epic Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, which satirizes British traditionalism, stirred up impassioned hostilities and indignations among the Brits when released in 1943. It so infuriated Winston Churchill, in fact, that he refused to allow its exportation to other countries, particularly the U.S. When Blimp finally did premiere in the States in 1945, it screened in a drastically cut version. The sweeping story covers several decades. It begins at the tail end of the Boer War, when handsome young British officer Clive Candy, recently back from the battlefront, is infuriated by his discovery that Deutschland papers have played up the British atrocities in South Africa, propagandistically. He grows so irate, in fact, that he travels to Germany to address the problem. Once there, he meets an attractive British educator, Edith Hunter (Deborah Kerr) who spends her days teaching English as a second language to German students. They grow close, but Candy so aggravates the local indigenes that he winds up in a duel with a German officer, Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff (Anton Walbrook). The men wound each other and are sent to the same hospital, where they become friends. Candy - who doesn't yet realize he's fallen in love with Edith -- senses that Theo and Edith are attracted to one another, and encourages the couple's marital union. Candy subsequently returns to England, then falls for and marries Barbara (again played by Kerr), a nurse who bears a strong resemblance to Edith. She later dies, but Candy meets a third woman during WWII, Johnny (Kerr a third time), assigned to drive him from one locale to another during his campaigns. Meanwhile, Theo - disgusted by Nazi atrocities -- absconds to England, where he reencounters his old friend, now a prattering old shuffler rapidly approaching the end of his career and raving continuously about Nazi conduct (or lack thereof) in battle. Powell and Pressberger adapted Colonel Blimp from a comic strip; it became one of the hallmarks of their careers. ~ Sidney Jenkins, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By: ,
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 22, 2002


Roger Livesey
as Clive Candy
Deborah Kerr
as Barbara Wynne, Edith...
Anton Walbrook
as Theo Kretschmar-Schu...
Roland Culver
as Col. Betteridge
Albert Lieven
as Von Ritter
Spencer Trevor
as Period Blimp
James McKechnie
as Spud Wilson
Ursula Jeans
as Frau von Kalteneck
John Laurie
as Murdoch
Arthur Wontner
as Embassy Counsellor
Count Zichy
as Col. Borg
Carl Jaffe
as Van Reumann
Eric Maturin
as Col. Goodhead
Frith Branbury
as Babyface Fitzroy
Helen Debray
as Mrs. Wynne
Harry Welchman
as Maj. Davis
Reginald Tate
as Van Zijl
A.E. Matthews
as President of Tribuna...
Valentine Dyall
as von Schonbron
Muriel Aked
as Lady Margaret
Neville Mapp
as Stuffy Graves
Vincent Holman
as Club Porter 1942
Dennis Arundell
as Cafe Orchestra Leade...
James Thomas Lee Kni...
as Club Porter 1902
David Ward
as Kaunitz
Jan Van Loewen
as Indignant Citizen
Robert H. Harris
as Embassy Secretary
Jane Millican
as Nurse Erna
Norman Pierce
as Mr. Wynne
Edward Cooper
as BBC Official
Joan Swinstead
as Secretary
Wally Patch
as Sergeant clearing de...
Ferdinand "Ferdy" Ma...
as Prussian Student
John Boxer
as Soldier
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

All Critics (27) | Top Critics (7)

Maybe the most wonderfully British movie ever made.

Full Review… | November 15, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

A 1943 Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger collaboration so unambiguously satirizing the military mind-set that Prime Minister Winston Churchill tried to have it banned.

Full Review… | November 15, 2011
Village Voice
Top Critic

The movie looks past the fat, bald military man with the walrus moustache, and sees inside, to an idealist and a romantic. To know him is to love him.

Full Review… | November 19, 2002
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Maybe the most essentially, urgently British of the 21 films Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger made together.

Full Review… | June 20, 2015
Antagony & Ecstasy

The rarest of cinematic treasures: a historical epic that is also intensely personal and emotionally earnest.

Full Review… | May 22, 2013
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

The magic of the Powell & Pressburger directing and producing team has never been more prevalent or as affecting as it was than with their World War II character study epic The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. Heralded as one of, if not THE greatest British film ever made, its power lies soley in its performances and its dialogue. People that see it as nothing more than a pro-war statement seem to miss the point completely. To me, it's about what Colonel Candy goes through at the end of the film: not understanding what to do, even if you think you know you do. That sums up the film's overall message to me. If it were a pro-war statement, then he'd know exactly what to do. That's a sort of simple-minded view, but it's one I picked up on early on. Roger Livesey, Anton Walbrook and Deborah Kerr are magic, and their performances still have the power to affect. A colossally-well made piece of cinema.

Tim Salmons

Super Reviewer

This film is an interesting look at young people looking at old people...what you see is a paunchy old guy with a moustache, but as the old guy says, "You don't know anything about me," and of course the movie endeavors then to tell us all about the old guy. It was a little humbling to realize that we are the last generation alive who heard first hand accounts from the turn-of-the century crowd and when we die it goes with us. But this movie is a marvelous film archive of what it was like then.

Bathsheba Monk
Bathsheba Monk

Super Reviewer

How amazing is Anton Walbrook? He steals almost every scene he's in.

Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

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