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  • Gareth Crook

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) - 7/10

There seems to be trend for overly long films at the moment of writing. It’s certainly not a new phenomenon though, as this proves at nearly 3 hours. We’re quickly introduced to a squad of eager young soldiers in army training, all with daft names, led by the spritely Spud Wilson (James McKechnie). It’s all a bit farcical and good fun as they raid a Turkish baths in an army exercise and defeat old Major General Clive Candy (Roger Livesey) before the exercise has got going. This is because he’s seen as past it, stuffy with a silly moustache and that maybe so, but it’s not always been that way. He was once young as we rewind to the turn of the century and well to be honest, he’s still stuffy. Tally ho officer type. He’s happy to break a rule for good reason though and makes his way to pre war Berlin to help a damsel in distress, Edith Hunter (Deborah Kerr). This starts a chain of events that shape his life. Together they’re on a mission to restore the good name of England. See, tally ho stuff. Things get entertainingly out of hand and before we know it, Candy finds himself in a duel. His opponent Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff (Anton Walbtook), another army man, German of course, hence the name. Things aren’t about to get gory though, this is not that film. This is prim, cordial, gentlemanly etc. hysterically proper, purposely so, highlighting the ridiculousness of taking sides and the war that defines Candy. He is a rather loveable and honourable scoundrel and in Theo (I can’t type all that again) he finds an unlikely friend. At the half way point, it could be said that not an awful lot has happened, but it’s still wonderful and as we learn more about Candy, the more this warm hug of a film makes you smile. Well aside perhaps the scene with Candy displaying his hunting trophies on the wall. Why on earth was mounting dead animal heads ever a thing?? We’re reminded he’s an army man as we find ourselves in WWI, where he meets another girl, a nurse named Barbara (Deborah Kerr). The sets although half painted when outside are delightfully of the period, as is the string laden score. Candy is never in mortal danger despite his occupation, but Theo finds himself on the losing side and things only get harder as we fast forward to WWII. All these world events could seem a mere canvas for Candys story and those who weave through his life. His loves, his loses, but its war that shapes him and brings people into his life that he cares for, like his driver Angela (Deborah Kerr)… spotting a theme? The man we know at the end has travelled a long way, as have we, through near three gripping hours, that really need to be watched than read about. Sit back and enjoy. Bravo!



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