The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, Romance, War

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) Poster

From the Boer War through World War II, a soldier rises through the ranks in the British military.

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  • Deborah Kerr in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  • Roger Livesey in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  • Deborah Kerr and Roger Livesey in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  • Roger Livesey and Anton Walbrook in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  • Roger Livesey in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
  • Anton Walbrook in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

25 March 2003 | carlianschwartz
A wonderful, deeply moving film.
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp is one of the most deeply moving films I've ever seen. It's amazing how independent producers (the Archers--Powell & Pressburger) managed to put together a lavish Technicolor epic without government assistance in wartime England--but they did it. it contains one of the most subtle "why we fight" themes--to preserve the English (and, hopefully, American) sense of fair play exemplified by the title character. The emotional kicker is a scene which takes place in 1939 in a British police station, where the German (played by Anton Walbrook--a German refugee actor) calmly and drily narrates how and why he came to settle in England. Just the thought of the scene moves me to tears. It's a marvelous piece of acting. The narrative technique--the story contained in one, long flashback--was in vogue on both sides of the Atlantic in the early 1940s--one can think of Sam Wood's Saratoga Trunk (Warner Brothers, 1943) as a good example--but the shift from 1942 to 1902 is accomplished by a very deft piece of editing. Colonel Blimp enters the pool of the Royal Automobile Club an old man, and emerges 40 years earlier! Colonel Blimp's true subtext is how civilization, friendship, and love survive times of chaos and barbarism (not to mention war) and, indeed, triumph by their survival. It is especially timely at the time of this writing (late March 2003).

Critic Reviews

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Did You Know?


The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.


Clive Candy: War starts at midnight!


A camera shadow is visible on the Clive's back as he approaches Theo at the prisoner camp.

Crazy Credits

Deborah Kerr's characters are listed separately, in order of appearance. So Deborah Kerr's name appears three times in the movie credits.

Alternate Versions

The original version (the one restored to Criterion Collection DVD and laserdisc) runs 163 minutes. When Winston Churchill expressed his vehement dislike for the film, the British distributor, Rank Films, cut it to 140 minutes. The film was chopped to pieces when it was imported to the United States in 1945, running around 120 minutes (in which the film's vital flashback structure is eliminated and the story is told from beginning to end). The film was further cut to 90 minutes and ran on public television often in the 1970's (in the Criterion commentary, Martin Scorsese comments that this is the version he saw late night when working on New York, New York (1977)). For years, it was thought that the only existing version was this 90-minute version. In 1983, with the cooperation of the Archers, the epic film was restored to the full 163-minute length, much to the delight of Emeric Pressburger (whose favorite film this was). The film was reconstructed to the original flashback structure and many scenes taking place during World War I were restored, including the much-discussed black soldier.


Commando Patrol
Written by
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Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Drama | Romance | War

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