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The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp [VHS] [1943]

Roger Livesey , Deborah Kerr , Emeric Pressburger , Michael Powell    Universal, suitable for all   VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Actors: Roger Livesey, Deborah Kerr, Anton Walbrook, Roland Culver, James McKechnie
  • Directors: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell
  • Writers: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell
  • Producers: Emeric Pressburger, Michael Powell, Richard Vernon
  • Language: English, French, German
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Carlton
  • VHS Release Date: 13 May 2002
  • Run Time: 156 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000064249
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 298,621 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description


Powell and Pressburger's first Technicolor masterpiece, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) transcends its narrow wartime propaganda remit to portray in warm-hearted detail the life and loves of one extraordinary man. The film's clever narrative structure first presents us with the imposingly rotund General Clive Wynne-Candy of the Home Guard (Roger Livesey in his greatest screen performance), a blustering old buffer with spreading handlebar moustache and stomach to match. Confronted by a youthful regular army Captain he seems the epitome of stuffy, outmoded values. But travelling backwards 40 years we see a different man altogether: the young and dashing officer "Sugar" Candy, just returned from earning a Victoria Cross in the Boer War. Through a series of affecting relationships with three women (all played to perfection by Deborah Kerr) and his touching lifelong friendship with a German officer (Anton Wallbrook), we see Candy's life unfold, and come to understand how difficult it is for him to adapt his sense of military honour to modern notions of "total war".

If Livesey's engaging Clive Candy is the film's heart, Anton Wallbrook's Theo is its conscience; his exile speech delivered to an uncomprehending immigration officer is a heartfelt tour de force made all the more poignant by the Austrian actor's own circumstances, as well as those of Hungarian scriptwriter Emeric Pressburger. Powell's technically masterful and innovative direction illuminates every scene, from the surprising camera move in the duel sequence to the hunting montage of stuffed animal heads on a wall. Notoriously, this is the film that Churchill tried to have banned, and indeed its sympathetic portrayal of a German officer was contentious in 1943, though one suspects that Churchill's own blimpishness was a factor too.

On the DVD: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp looks in excellent condition on this special edition DVD. The mono sound is crisp and the picture largely free of grain, allowing the subtle lighting and muted colours to be seen as intended. The main extra is a 25-minute documentary feature which tells us nothing revelatory about making the film, but has good new interviews with cinematographer Jack Cardiff (then an apprentice) and eloquent admirer Stephen Fry. Text biographies and stills are also included.--Mark Walker

Product Description

In this Powell/Pressburger production set in World War Two Britain, stuffy ex-soldier Clive Candy (Roger Livesey) recalls his career which began as a dashing officer in the Boer War. As a young man he lost the woman he loved (Deborah Kerr, who plays three roles) to a Prussian officer (Anton Walbrook), whom he fought in a duel only to become lifelong friends with. Candy cannot help but feel that his notions of honour and chivalry are out of place in modern warfare. The film's title comes from 'Evening Standard' cartoonist David Low's satirical comic creation, Colonel Blimp.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War starts at 12 o'clock! 1 May 2006
I saw this film a few nights ago, and although it was almost 3 hours long, I stayed glued to the screen the entire time. The plot, writing and acting is perfect, and by the end I felt as if I had been watching an old friend. The film is about an idealistic man who was a young solider in the Boer war, who was brought up on the idea of 'gentlemanly' fighting, with no dirty tricks. We see him progress from being a young man, to a man as a senior officer in WW1, already seeing him out of place. Then we go through the years until we finally see him in WW2. He's the same man, but the world around him has changed completely. The film affected me on many levels.

Will I end up like Clive Candy when I'm older, disillusioned and out of place in an ever changing society, will I have to change my ideals and beliefs to fit in with the people around me? I'm 16 and this film is definatley an eye opener and I already know that this film has changed my view on things. Now, if you haven't already, GO SEE THIS FILM!
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can hardly tell it's propaganda 1 Mar 2006
The film starts with a silly old soldier being affronted by the rude disdain of a young officer who is using his initiative - and cheating in order to win. The old fellow is made to look ridiculous. The message thrown in his face is that "fair play never won a war". Then the scene travels back 40 years to see the pathetic old fool when he was young and his ideals were the norm, at a time when fair ends didn't justify foul means. He's just returned from the Boer war with a Victoria Cross, but he's still young and impetuous. We accompany him through his own brash youth, when he annoys his grumpy elders, upsets the diplomatic apple cart for his government and has to fight a duel with an equally "good egg" in the army of Britain's enemy, in order to save face on both sides and restore the balance. Lifelong friendship blossoms from this violent ritual and love is almost found with the young lady who dragged him into the situation that led to the dual. He loses the girl with good grace to his new friend and returns to England. Then he goes off to distant lands to convert beautiful, live animals into sad, dead trophies for a few years, until another war comes along. He's the same man of honour through WWI, even though the lessons about doing whatever it takes to win are there if he should choose to learn them. He never changes. He'll never choose to do what's expedient over what's right. By WWII the atmosphere has changed and the young officer introduced at the beginning of the film, doesn't have any respect for a bumbling old buffoon who doesn't understand modern warfare. Read more ›
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
As the film opens, our hero Clive Candy seems a bumbling, unsympathetic character, shouting red faced at a young British soldier from behind his enormous moustache. As the plot develops, however, we see a touching portrait of a man whose unchanging sense of fair play becomes out of step with the values of war torn Europe. Roger Livesey is excellent as Candy, with Deborah Kerr as the various incarnations of the woman he has always loved, and Anton Walbrook as his equally decent and honorable German friend. The film is, perhaps, a little dated for some tastes, but there is a point at which I reach for my hanky and start to snuffle. I will always love it.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Churchill was outraged. He was expecting a patriotic war movie full of valor, heroic death, brave British soldiers overcoming all odds to beat the Hun, with Nazis portrayed as the beasts they were. What he saw was a film about a fat, bald, pompous old man with a walrus mustache who can't seem to do anything right. Worse, the only German around is a good German who turns out to be a firm friend. Even worse, the lead character seems to be based on a newspaper cartoon of a blustering old colonel who quickly came to symbolize for the British people the complacency and pigheadedness that had made Britain so unprepared when war with Hitler came. Churchill immediately determined to have the film banned. He might have succeeded but for two things. Some in his government argued that banning the film would only create a backlash. Then there was the matter of World War II, which at last distracted him from his passion for censorship.

And so we have The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, the movie I consider the richest of the six amazingly creative films Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made between 1942 and 1948.

It's 1942 and we're in an ornate London steam bath with a group of fat old duffers we come to understand are the aged officers of the Home Guard. War games will begin at midnight and they are preparing themselves. They are led by Major General Clive Wynne-Candy. He won the Victoria Cross in the Boer War and served with distinction in France during WWI. That was long ago. He's filled with pride, certitude, confidence in the rules of war and good food.

A squad of soldiers bursts in led by a young lieutenant who immediately asks which of the towel-wrapped, sweating old men is General Candy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Dateless - a lesson well learned
I have loved this film for many years and was pleased to get a DVD of it to show my husband. It has a message even for people of today and is not just an "oldie" - husband... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Binmore
5.0 out of 5 stars Great print of a great film
Another of P&P's films which was criticised for its portrayal of a sympathetic German character. If Livesey's performance hadn't matched Walbrook's perhaps that criticism might... Read more
Published 1 month ago by ZomBoy1971
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
It is amazing that in 1942, in the middle of WW2 a film of this quality and at a cost of £200,000 was made at all. Read more
Published 2 months ago by opus
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable film.
The quality of the restoration is amazing. Some of the shots will take your breath away. This is a very unusual and spellbinding film.
Published 2 months ago by mikes
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film well if not perfectly restored.
Viewing the dvd version I was impressed with the general picture quality and sound but their was two moments in film when something might have gone wrong with digitial restoration... Read more
Published 7 months ago by John Simmons
5.0 out of 5 stars Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
It is a much better film than I remember from seeing it 50 years ago. The restoration by Martin Scorsese produces excellent picture and sound quality
Published 9 months ago by Ronald J. Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Aguably the best movie ever made
Truly awe inspiring movie. They certainly don't make them like this anymore. The Blu Ray restoration is one of the best I've seen, of particular note is the opening sequence with... Read more
Published 9 months ago by skat895
4.0 out of 5 stars A great film
This restoration brings this film alive and it is a good film in any case, spanning an important era in British history.
Published 12 months ago by Percy T
5.0 out of 5 stars Great British Cinema
Classic film. Super blu-ray !! The cinema writers and critcs past and present have expounded fully and with more authority on this movie.
Published 14 months ago by Mr. William S. Creighton
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
I enjoyed the dated film quality and period settings, together with the fact that winston Churchill didn't approve of it, which made me suspect that it would have a useful point to... Read more
Published 15 months ago by D. Jefferies
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