The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)





Director:     Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger.

Starring:     Roger Livesey (Clive Candy),  Deborah Kerr (Edith Hunter / Barbara Wynne / Johnny Cannon),  Anton Walbrook (Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff),  Roland Culver (Col. Betteridge),  James McKechnie (Spud Wilson),  Albert Lieven (von Ritter),  Arthur Wontner (Embassy Counsellor),  David Hutcheson (Hoppy),  Ursula Jeans (Frau von Kalteneck),  John Laurie (Murdoch),  Harry Welchman (Major Davies),  Reginald Tate (van Zijl),  A.E. Matthews (President of Tribunal),  Carl Jaffe (von Reumann),  Valentine Dyall (von Schnborn).

an old soldier relives his life from the 1902 Boer War through World Wars I and II



Spoiler Warning:

Army men are riding along on their motorcycles just tearing up the countryside.  They are having loads of fun until British infantry stops one of the leaders by holding up a rope in front of the cycle.  The motorcyclist protests this treatment and tells the men that he has a message for headquarters.  The message is that war begins at midnight.  (They are referring to war games, not real war.)  The officer decides to attack at six p.m. and not at midnight as scheduled. 

The men in trucks stop at an eatery on base, so Spuds can go in and talk with the good-looking Edith Hunter.  As the men are waiting for Spuds, Edith comes out of the eatery, gets in a jeep and drives away.  The men start loading back onto the trucks so they can follow Edith.  The trucks follow her into London.  Edith stops and runs into a building with a small army following her. 

When Spuds comes in Edith hides under the reception desk.  The guy manning the desk tells Spuds that the general is in the Turkish bath.  A whistle is blown and the small army sweeps into the recreational building.  Spuds goes to the Turkish baths where most of the men are elderly.  Spuds tells the guys that this is an army exercise and they are all prisoners. 

Spuds nexts goes into another section of the bath to talk with Gen. Wynn Candy.  The general is sleeping, so Spuds has to wake him.  The general says for them to leave him alone.  He asks who is it?  Second Lt. Wilson.  Wynn Candy tells Wilson that war doesn't start until midnight.  Wilson says how does the general know that?  Because there was a general agreement on it.  Wilson says the enemy doesn't keep its agreements, so the war is starting a little earlier than expected. 

In the banter between the two soldiers, Wilson makes a crack about almost all of them having big bellies.  The general doesn't like this and tells Wilson that in 40 years he will be an older gentleman too.  Wilson starts to go, but the general is still angry and goes after him.  He knocks one of the soldiers there into the swimming pool asking him how does he know what he was like 40 years ago when he was a young man?

Flashback.  40 years earlier.  At the Turkish a young Candy meets an old friend of his, named Hopwell.  The guys talk so loud that an elderly officer has to keep asking them to be quiet.  The two fellows get dressed in their fancy uniforms and ask the doorman to get them a cab.  The elderly general comes out all dressed up too, and recognizes the two guys.  He starts scolding them for their loud behavior.  He also reminds them that British soldiers are dying right now in South Africa in the Boer War.  The elderly man stops yelling when he sees that on the chest of one of the men hangs a Victoria Cross.  Now the elderly man recognizes Candy and says hello.  Candy got the VC fighting for the British in South Africa. 

Hopwell gives a letter which says:  ". . . and tales of atrocities by our soldiers against the Boers are being printed by these odious newspapers and encouraged by certain high personages who are determined to foment trouble between German and England.  There is one agent, in particular, named Kavnitz, who is a liar and a scoundrel!  Now this Lt. Candy sounds a splendid fellow and he has just returned from South Africa.  I only he would come to Berlin and tell the truth!  That would do more good than a hundred interviews."  So Hopwell takes Candy to see Col. T. H. Betteridge.  Candy tells the colonel that a niece of his Edith Hunter wrote the letter.  She is a governess in Berlin.  Candy suggests that he use his leave of four weeks to go to Berlin and confront this fellow Kavnitz.  Kavintz said that the British killed 250 or so Boer men, women and children at Jordan Sighting.  That where Candy was serving the British army and he knows the British committed no such atrocity.  The colonel tells Candy absolutely cannot go.  He cannot go, because this is a matter for the diplomats.

Candy tells Hopwell that the colonel told him he couldn't go, but he is going anyway,  Of course, the whole trip will be a secret one. 

At the Kaiserhof Hotel Candy visits with a pretty Miss Edith Hunter.  She is surprised that her letter led Candy to come over for a visit to Berlin.  She says she has recently lost her job because of her being English.  She may have to go back to England.  But as for right now, they both want to improve Britain's image in Berlin.  Candy asks her if she knows any of Kaunitz's friends.  She says she knows a student who know Kaunitz. 

Edith takes Candy to a lively tavern where lots of students hang out.  Candy mentions that the Prince of Wales is coming to Berlin.  He was invited to the Kaiser's birthday party.  There's a complication he needs to tell Edith.  The two colonels told him not to go to Berlin.  He see his friend Kaunitz come in.  He asks Edith to tell the orchestra to play tune #141.  He says Kaunitz was a prisoner in their block house for seven weeks.  It was the only record they had on the phonograph and it was played over and over again.  

The orchestra plays the tune and Kaunitz becomes irritated when he hears it.  He asks his waiter to have the orchestra play a different tune.  So Candy has beers send to all the members of the orchestra.  So the tune is begun again.  This makes Karnitz furious and he scolds his waiter.  The waiter points upstairs to the people who asked that the tune be played.  So Karnitz comes up to the second floor to confront the people.  Apparently, Karnitz is no friend of Candy, because he starts to make a scene.  Candy tells him to stop it, that he is with a lady, but Karnitiz ignores his request.  They start struggling with each other and Candy knocks Karnitz down.  Apparently, Karnitz has a lot of friends in the tavern and they start arguing with Candy. 

Two German officers come to the British embassy to ask about this Candy.  The Englishman, named Fitzroy, says that he knows Candy very well.  They went to school together at Harrod.  He is an army man just returned from South Africa.  He is an officer.  The Germans says that is very good because Karnitz wants to challenge Candy to a duel.  Fitzroy is shocked to hear this. 

Candy is called over and he is accused of insulting the entire German army. 


(to be continued) 


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.




Return To Main Page

Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)