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Submitted by Malcolm Pratt

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
Review by Thomas M. Pryor
New York Times, March 30, 1945

Produced, written, and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Cinematographers, Jack Cardiff and Georges Perinal
Edited by John Seabourne
Music by Allan Gray
Released by Archers Productions
Running time: 163 minutes.

Roger Livesey (Clive Candy)
Deborah Kerr (Edith Hunter / Barbara Wynne / Johnny Cannon)
Anton Walbrook (Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff)
Jan van Loewen (Indignant Citizen)
David Hutcheson (Hoppy)
Valentine Dyall (Von Schonborn)
Carl Jaffe (Von Reumann)

    Colonel Blimp, that grandiose representative of pomposity and mental stagnation so eloquently characterized in David Low's drawings, has been interred with loving care and a touch of delightful impudence in the British Technicolor picture, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, which opened last night at the Gotham. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the authors, directors, and producers, have fashioned an impressive, if not always consistent, entertainment in depicting the development of a typical Blimp-type British officer from his shining hour as a Boer War hero, complete with Victoria Cross, to his utter bewilderment by modern military methods.

    Roger Livesey was an ideal choice for the leading role, Clive Candy. His transformation from a spirited young officer to a bluff "damn it all man" type of lovable old warhorse is a gem of florid makeup and characterization. It may be that Mr. Livesey's uncompromising British inflection will prove baffling, perhaps even annoying, in the film's early stages, but it grows upon one and becomes just right as Clive Candy progresses in years, girth, and befuddlement.

    The brash young man, who fought a duel with a Prussian officer in 1902, becomes friends with his opponent, and sportingly let him walk off with a beautiful English governess in Berlin, was growing old in the ways of the world even in the warfare of 1914-18. But it is not until 1939 rolls around that General Candy has unknowingly become a mental ancient. Even in retirement as head of the home guard he is out of step, a well-intentioned blunderer whose ultimate embarrassment comes when he is unceremoniously captured in a Turkish bath with his staff during practice maneuvers. "But war doesn't start till midnight," he thunders in pathetic confusion at his blitz-wizened captors.

    Covering a span of more than two-score years is a mighty undertaking, even in a picture that runs two and a half hours, and it is not surprising that Colonel Blimp bogs down for considerable stretches. But by scrupulous attention to detail the Messrs. Powell and Pressburger have achieved several distinguished individual scenes which will long remain in fond memory. One in particular is the dueling sequence, which is done with elaborate protocol and ceremony. Yet even this delightful episode could have used some careful pruning.

    Anton Walbrook gives a completely winning performance as the Prussian officer. And while he finally emerges as a disciple of the "good German," the authors are careful to point out that his reformation comes only after he has been thoroughly trampled upon by his own country and children. Through the picture Deborah Kerr, a lovely and talented actress, plays three different ladies in the general's life with remarkable dexterity. Several worthy performances are contributed by A.E. Matthews, James McKechnie, and John Laurie among others. Colonel Blimp is as unmistakably a British product as Yorkshire pudding and, like the latter, it has a delectable savor all its own.

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