passport-to-pimlico-feb-7thWhen an unexploded WW2 bomb detonates in a Pimlico street,
historical documents are found which prove the district is an annex of
the French state of Burgundy. The community warms to this revelation,
with ample scope for comedy for Stanley Holloway, Margaret
Rutherford and others. “It’s a timeless film that is very time specific, as
while it’s absolutely rooted in a very particular period just after the
Second World War, it’s about ideas and a belief in the little guy that’s as
easy to get behind today as it was when the film was made”, Tim Isaac,
Movie Muser (Cert U)
Dir: Henry Cornelius 81 mins UK 1949

Programme Notes

Passport to Pimlico
UK 1949 81 minutes Cert. U

This famous film is one of a number produced by Ealing Studios shortly after WW2, often referred to collectively as the “Ealing comedies”. Its setting is of course the quaintly named Pimlico, a district in the London borough of Westminster, where the after-effects of the war are evidenced in the bombed-out areas and the strong community spirit of its inhabitants. The strong cast makes the most of this fertile situation! In fact, for production reasons, the actual filming was done not in Pimlico, but in nearby Lambeth.

The plot hinges on the discovery of papers that showed that the Duke of Burgundy, supposed to have been killed in the battle of Nancy in 1477, had survived and become the owner of what is now Pimlico. The inhabitants seized on this information to support a claim that the area was in fact part of the Duchy of Burgundy and therefore a state independent of the United Kingdom.

Arthur Pemberton – Stanley Holloway
Shirley Pemberton – Barbara Murray
Edie Randall – Hermione Baddeley
Professor Hatton-Jones – Margaret Rutherford
Connie Pemberton – Betty Warren
Duke of Burgundy – Paul Dupuis
Frank Huggins – John Slater

Director – Henry Cornelius
Screenplay – T.E.B. Clarke
Original Music – Georges Auric
Cinematography – Lionel Banes
Producer – Michael Balcon

“Even though you’d be loathe to place Henry Cornelius’s beloved Passport to Pimlico into the top tier of Ealing Studio’s largely sensational cinematic output – alongside the likes of Alberto Calvalcanti’s Went the Day Well, Robert Hamer’s Kind Hearts and Coronets or Alexander Mackendrick’s The Man in the White Suit – it remains a ripping and ingeniously mounted British comedy…” David Jenkins. Little White Lies.



“Flawless chronicling of the demise of the tram”

“Delightful but have we lost that community spirit?”

“Interesting to see nostalgia for something before it disappeared.”

“So nostalgic”

“I liked the trams – bring them back!”

“Glad we have these films – they seem hardly real now.”

“Very interesting”


“Both excellent films!”

“Preposterous, brilliant, a delight! Is this the best of the Ealing comedies? It’s the best I’ve seen.”

“Brilliant – still as funny as when I saw it in 1950 at the Regal cinema, Wallingford. We need at least one Ealing comedy every year.”

“Such a laugh! Tremendous cast, with plenty of old faces to identify.”

“Great fun! Yes Minister, with a good natured poke at bureaucracy.”

“Hilarious, yet harrowing, satire on the dependence of post-war austerity and on-going support for smaller nations, to this very day. That pig in a parachute was a cinematic WTF. Let’s have more programmed events like this.”

“Very uplifting and entertaining”

“Good fun, much of it still true 60 yrs later.”

“Great to look back on but wouldn’t want to actually go back!”

“Seen it before, of course but still very enjoyable. Terrific cast. Perhaps not quite as funny as I remembered but cleverer, almost bitter sweet.”

“Charles Hawtrey milking the helicopter was an excellent touch.”

“Very enjoyable but sound quality poor”

“At least they had some summer before the rains came!”

“Nothing like good old English rain! Can we have the sound up a bit, in future?”

“Good ol’ London Town!”

“How very peculiarly English!”

“Slow start – better the wilder it got.”

“Pacing too even and too slow. Script – long, with very dull passages.”

“This film is as old as me but it hasn’t worn as well!”


A:24, B:10, C:9, D:1, E:1 to give 81%