The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)

Feature Film | War Drama | UK | English & German | 2h43m
Dir: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger | Scr: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger | Ph: Georges Périnal | Prod: Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger | Mus: Allan Gray | Ed: John Seabourne | PD: Alfred Junge | Cast: Roger Livesey, Deborah Kerr, Anton Walbrook, Roland Culver, James McKechnie, Albert Lieven, Arthur Wontner, David Hutcheson, Ursula Jeans, John Laurie

Through a duel, an unrequited love, a lost love, a fatherly love, three wars, and a lifelong friendship, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp explores the life, loves, and military career of a British army officer, from medal-winning bravery in the Boer War to a post-retirement stint in the home guard 40 years later. Roger Livesey does well in the central role, ageing with remarkable plausibility, whilst Anton Walbrook, as his lifelong German friend, does even better, capturing the ups and downs of experience with aplomb. Never the less, it is Deborah Kerr’s magnetic turn in a triple role, embodied with ethereal beauty and gentle humanity, that most captures the imagination, bleeding out beyond her screen time to haunt the rest of the film. Giving life to this trio of affecting performances is Powell & Pressburger’s customary flair and imagination, Périnal’s alluring photography, and Junge’s expressive production design. However, the film’s pro-British anti-German propaganda sometimes feels a little on the awkward (not to mention dishonest) side. Generally wonderful, though.