Passport to Pimlico (1949)

PASSPORT TO PIMLICO (1949)
Article 3287 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-24-2010
Posting Date: 8-14-2010
Directed by Henry Cornelius
Featuring Stanley Holloway, Betty Warren, Barbara Murray
Country: UK
What it is: Political science fiction comedy

When a bomb is actually set off in the small community of Pimlico in London, it uncovers treasure as well as documentation attesting to the fact that the area in question actually belongs to the country of Burgundy. When the residents realize that this status as a foreign territory relieves them of adherence to some of the more annoying British laws, they decide to stand by their rights to be Burgundians rather than Britons, a move that starts an escalating chain of events as Britain and Pimlico must come to terms with each other.

When I saw this movie many years ago, it never occurred to me that it could be interpreted as science fiction, and I could understand why some might argue that it doesn’t belong. However, it is speculative political fiction, and it’s very intelligently done as well; it explores the whole world of foreign relations with the twist that the foreigners are practically next door. The movie has a great ensemble cast, and watching the various events unfold (the installation of customs stations, the arrival of an heir to the Burgundian crown, the “closing of the frontiers” in an attempt to force the residents to evacuate, etc.) is fascinating. This comedy becomes even more charming as it goes along, with the scene where three children pioneer a method of saving the Burgundians from starvation a particular high point. This is one movie that is worth rewatching.

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