Ealing Studios’ Classic Post-War Comedy

A box office smash in Great Britain after World War II, Henry Cornelius’ Passport To Pimlico from Ealing Studios is a fondly remembered, comical British farce. A scheming shop owner finds a document proving a small part of London is actually a foreign territory not subject to the British government’s control.

The political and social satire gently spoofs government bureaucracy and British nationalism, as the new mini-state quickly falls apart due to mismanagement and bickering.

Led by a winning British cast filled with such actors as Stanley Holloway, Hermione Baddeley and Margaret Rutherford, Passport To Pimlico follows in the established comedic tradition of Ealing Studios (The Titfield Thunderbolt). Written with a firm hand by T.E.B. Clarke (The Lavender Hill Mob) that earned a deserved Academy Award nomination, the comedy slices and dices Britain’s post-war zeitgeist.

Passport To Pimlico shows a deft comedic touch if sophisticated British satire is your thing

The laid-back district of Pimlico in London is agitated when a leftover WWII bomb is triggered by children, revealing a large treasure cache. Arthur Pemberton and his daughter discover an old scroll that claims Pimlico is actually the property of Burgundy, thus not subject to British law. Including Britain’s strict rationing laws, the new Burgundians quickly look to exploit the situation for their own gain.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and the bumbling new government falls apart as the laws of economics start hitting the locals hard. Chaos ensues as their inept management of the new territory results in a divided city like East and West Berlin.

Arising from the British comedy tradition and rich with the standard Ealing Studios’ treatment, Passport to Pimlico has wit and produces laughs. However, the material is firmly stuck in its place and time. A keen understanding of post-war Europe and British society is a great help appreciating many of the cultural jokes, likely lost on younger audiences.

Passport To Pimlico shows a deft comedic touch if sophisticated British satire is your thing.

Video

Restored by StudioCanal from the original elements a few years ago, Film Movement licenses that HD transfer for this winning Blu-ray release. Passport To Pimlico’s classic black-and-white cinematography receive a film-like restoration with pleasing detail and definition.

The 1.33:1 presentation at 1080P resolution includes a hint of sharpening with loads of texture and finer detail. The authentic grain structure has been left untouched, cleanly reproduced by the strong AVC encode.

Black levels are satisfactory. The film elements have seen some clean-up as witnessed by the included restoration featurette. Overall, the 1949 British film has consistent clarity and an even contrast that highlights the craftsmanship of Ealing Studios.

Audio

2.0 PCM audio delivers a serviceable presentation of the film’s original mono soundtrack. There are fewer glaring audio problems here than Film Movement’s BD for another Ealing comedy, The Titfield Thunderbolt. The 1948 recording strains when pushed, sounding a bit harsh. Dialogue is intelligible without any real volume issues.

No subtitles are included.

Extras

Film Movement releases the British comedy gem in their traditional clear case with an exclusive 12-page booklet that has a new essay by film scholar Ronald Bergen. The special features practically duplicate StudioCanal’s Region B-locked Blu-ray release, dropping only the trailer. Film Movement’s BD is locked to Region A.

Interview with BFI Curator Mark Duguid (07:09 in SD)

Locations Featurette With Film Historian Richard Dacre (04:19 in SD)

Restoration Comparison (06:54 in HD) – Using a splitscreen comparison, the unrestored transfer is compared to the new remaster.

Slideshow (01:50 in HD) – Behind-the-scenes stills and images from the movie.

Film Movement Sizzle Reel (01:26 in HD) – A promo trailer for the label found on all of their releases.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Passport to Pimlico
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Another well-written comedy from Ealing Studios that serves up a comedic treatment of Great Britain’s post-war issues.

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