Monday, 29 January 2001
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
“The year’s most unusual picture!” blazed the billboards of the time. Which was perhaps understating the fact, given that the year was 1943 and the subtext of the film was this nation’s historic kinship with our close Saxon cousins, the Germans. There may have been more celebrated Powell and Pressburger productions, but not even Peeping Tom was that subversive.
Roger Livesey’s titanic performance as the gentleman officer who grows to be a blustering colonel had Churchill and his mandarins fuming. As a consequence, reputedly, Michael Powell was passed over for a knighthood. Not a few have deemed it the greatest English picture…certainly, in Livesey’s portrayal of the old warhorse struggling with the realities of existential conflict there’s a once-seen / never-forgotten study of what it means to come from these shores.