When an unexploded WWII bomb is accidentally detonated in Pimlico, an area of London, it reveals a treasure trove and documents proving that the region is, in fact part of Burgundy, France and thus foreign territory. The British Government attempt to regain control by setting up border controls and cutting off services to the area. The 'Burgundians' fight back... Written by
Stephen Parkin <email@example.com>
Not always on target, but still an enjoyable slice of typically Ealing whimsy
When an unexploded bomb goes up in a street in the London area of Pimlico, it exposes a cave containing goblets, gold, art and other valuable artefacts. The gold is immediately claimed by the crown, but expert Professor Hatton-Jones comes forward with a royal charter that proves the area is legally Burgundy. With their newfound independence, the residents scrap rationing, opening hours and adopt an altogether more continental lifestyle. However Whitehall cuts them off, leaving Pimlico overrun by undesirables seeking refuge from England's laws. Things get harder as the political tensions between the two `countries' increase.
In true Ealing fashion, this is a gently comic satire on the British way of rule. In Pimlico, the residents are fast to turn their back on England in favour of a life outside of rationing and rules. Needless to say things don't go quite as they planned. As a satire, it doesn't totally work as not all it's points and digs are on target - in fact at times I wasn't sure what it was aiming at. However this is not to say that it isn't consistently amusing because it is. The basic plot is enjoyably slick and reminded me in essence of The Mouse That Roared. The laughs are rarely belly laughs but it produced a consistent chuckle in me as it was rather disarming and enjoyable. The more fanciful it becomes the more whimsical it feels - it never gets silly because the tone is so well pitched throughout to avoid it being daft at any point.
I nearly fell off my seat when I read another review on this page that said the cast were a bunch of unknowns! If you don't recognise at least six or seven faces with ease then this must be your first ever British comedy made pre-1960. Holloway, Huntley, Tafler and all the leads are all as good as ever and the bonus of Margaret Rutherford and some really memorable dialogue just makes things better. Even for those only familiar with the Carry On chapter of British comedy we have Charles Hawtrey in a young looking appearance here. Everyone handles the material very well and many of them are blessed with some sparky dialogue.
Overall this is an enjoyable little film that has digs at the British government and way of life but ultimately acknowledges England as the best place to be - for all it's rain, low temperatures and taxation, it's better than going it alone! A witty little film that will please any audience that is in the mood for a bit of Ealing whimsy (and who isn't?).
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