The Missionary (1982)

R  |   |  Comedy  |  2 November 1982 (USA)
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In 1905, after 10 years of missionary work in Africa, the Rev. Charles Fortesque is recalled to England, where his bishop gives him his new assignment - to minister to London's prostitutes.... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Slatterthwaite / Narrator
The Reverend Fitzbanks
Tricia George ...
Valerie Whittington ...
Roland Culver ...
Lord Fermleigh
Rosamund Greenwood ...
Neil Innes ...
Singer in Gin Palace
John Barrett ...
Old Man outside Hotel


In 1905, after 10 years of missionary work in Africa, the Rev. Charles Fortesque is recalled to England, where his bishop gives him his new assignment - to minister to London's prostitutes. Charles hopes Deborah, his fiancee, will object and give him an excuse to say no to the bishop. But she is so imperturbably innocent that she totally fails to understand what he is being asked to do, and urges him to do his best. Wealthy Lady Ames is expected to fund the work, but once she makes it clear to Charles that there will be no contribution unless he shares her bed... Written by James Barrett <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When you have a fiancée, a lover and you have to lead 25 women of the night down the path of righteousness.; you must pray for more than guidance, you must pray for strength. See more »




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 November 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A misszionárius  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Four significant British buildings were used for filming. They were the private home Longleat House in Wiltshire; the Tudor manor Dorney Court; Highclere Castle in Hampshire and Ardverikie House in Badenoch, Scotland. See more »


Lord Ames: I once had a chap before me who'd been caught stealing from the mess. I ordered every alternate fingernail to be removed, and you know, I still get a card from him every Christmas.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Pay close attention to the photo album during the end credits, the photos reveal details about the characters after the events of the film. See more »


Referenced in Comedy Connections: Ripping Yarns (2008) See more »


Put On Your Ta-Ta Little Girlie
Written and Composed by Fred W. Leigh
Sung by Neil Innes
See more »

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User Reviews

Some Background on "The Missionary"
30 March 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is not the funny film it could have been. Given that Palin and Maggie Smith (and Denholm Elliot) were in the very funny "A Private Function" a short time after this film, this is slightly disappointing.

I agree that Michael Hordern's brief appearance as the ultimately lost butler is the movie's finest moment - and I wonder if the germ for this idea was the Monty Python's sketch "The Golden Age of Ballooning", where Graham Chapman, as the butler for the Montgoffier brothers can't recognize what piece of furniture he is supposed to go to, and keeps requesting instructions. Hordern's hopeless invasion of room after room of the immense Ames mansion is quite funny. It was a good moment, but one of too few. Another is the business of Lord Ames (Trevor Howard, sort of spoofing his performance as Lord Cardigan in "The Charge of the Light Brigade") thinking of his favorite words - note how he loves to spell "flog" with two gees.

The film is actually an anachronism of an historical scandal. It is set in the 1906 or so, but actually in 1931 there was such a scandal involving an English clergyman, Reverend Harold Davidson "the Rector of Stiffkey" (pronounced "Stewkey"). He had been leading a mission in the East End of London, and it turned out that for some curious religious motive he had actually had relations with the prostitutes. The Rector was defrocked as a result. Davidson was something of an exhibitionist, and he eventually met an odd fate - he tried to be a lion tamer and was mauled to death. That part of the story is not in this film (probably just as well). But the film still lacks real juice. Fortunately "A Private Function" turned out to have juice. And Palin also had "A Fish Named Wanda" in his future as well.

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