Passport To Pimlico (1949) – Henry Cornelius

pimlico poster

The next recommendation in the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book for Kind Hearts and Coronets is this amusing little film penned by T.E.B. Clarke.

Set in the tiny street of Pimlico in post war bombed out London, funny things are afoot. There is an unexploded bomb in the middle of the neighborhood, an unusual heatwave is making for a warm summer, and beneath the street lays a treasure that may change the entire course of the nation.

Arthur Pemberton (Stanley Holloway) is pushing for a park area and a lido to be built for the neighborhood as the city continues to reclaim and rebuild after the destruction of the second world war. He’s decided against, as it is seen as a waste of money, and he begins to think things will never change, until the bomb is accidentally set off.

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After he mistakenly tumbles into the crater, he discovers a long forgotten treasure trove, and evidence, confirmed by Professor Hatton-Jones (Margaret Rutherford), that Pimlico is actually separate from England, and is part of French Burgundy, complete with Duke… Dijon (Paul Dupuis), who on his arrival starts to have eyes for Pemberton’s daughter, and seems rather stunned that he now rules over a tiny street in England.

At first all of the locals are quite happy to be separated from their mother country, they can enforce their own rules, have a duty-free, and thumb their noses at all the things that they don’t like about English government.

Unfortunately, it also means that they don’t have access to those things that they do like, namely police and security. Still, they stick to their idea of independence, and clash politically with Whitehall.

The British Government won’t deal with them unless they have a governing body, but in the interim set up borders and customs stops around the neighborhood.

Striking tit for tat, the Pimlico’s come Burgundians intercept trains passing through their land, and exercise the same procedures.

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When the water is turned off, they sneak back out and turn it on.

The country is divided, some love the little street, others hate it, while the neighborhood itself fights to survive, its chin up, and always planning.

There are a lot of fun moments throughout the film as their English go-getter, and keep calm attitude allows them to tackle the unique situation they find themselves in, and enjoy it to the full.

Eventually, Whitehall starts to deal with them, and negotiations begin, and even those are filled with humor, errors, and the British politeness.

The film barely breaks 85 minutes, but is amusing, and filled with some great moments, and while I did not enjoy it as much as Hue and Cry (and honestly still can’t believe I’d never heard of it) this one was a lot of fun!

There are a couple more recommendations on this list coming, one I actually quite love, and am looking forward to seeing again!

Have you seen this one?

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