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The Missionary (1982) Poster

Trivia

Final feature film of actor Roland Culver.
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George Harrison and Ringo Starr both visited the set.
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Whilst filming at Longleat House in Wiltshire, Michael Hordern asked to get off the set early because there was a trout stream nearby and he was an experienced trout fisherman. Later that day, the cast and crew had a barbecue with the fish Hordern caught.
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In order to create the effect of a 1906 street, the production built a facade of terrace houses in a bombed section of London near Columbia Road Flower Market. One day, director Richard Loncraine saw an old woman, who looked sad and upset, glancing at the houses. When asked, she responded, "My house came back". The woman maintained that the house was the one that she had been born in.
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Debut feature film of actor David Suchet and actresses Frances Barber and Sophie Thompson who both played mission girls
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According to Michael Palin diaries, Freddie Jones was attached to this project but pulled out.
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Peter Vaughn filmed his role in one day (Source: Michael Palin's diaries).
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John Gielgud turned down the role of Lord Ames. Laurence Olivier was then offered the part but proved too expensive. In the end the character was cast with Trevor Howard.
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Michael Palin conceived of the film's original title "The Missionary Position" whilst he was jogging in the rain up Hampstead Heath. This title would originally be cut back to just "The Missionary" so as to "give less away".
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First of two star teamings of actress Maggie Smith and actor Michael Palin. The second would be A Private Function (1984) around two years later. Actor Denholm Elliott appeared in both movies as well, as did another, Charles McKeown.
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In one scene in the film, Vangelis' theme from Chariots of Fire (1981), at the time just released the previous year, is heard when a group of people are running along the loch-side.
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Sets built for the film included a period gymnasium whilst a run-down British Rail fish terminal was converted into a film set for the bordello bawdy-house. The production also reconstructed streets in the East End of London to resemble the Edwardian era.
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The opening sequence set in Africa was actually filmed there. The production spent three days in Kenya's northern scrub-lands to shoot the scenes.
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For authenticity, many of the exteriors utilized unchanged original turn-of-the-century London locations.
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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.
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Reportedly, actor Michael Hordern lost his way in the labyrinthine passages of Wiltshire's private home Longleat, an action that was actually fitting of his forgetful absent-minded character of Slatterthwaite.
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One of two movies theatrically released in 1982 that were directed by Richard Loncraine. The other was Brimstone & Treacle (1982).
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Some movie posters for this film featured a preamble that read: "When you have a fiancée, a lover and you have to lead 28 women of the night down the path of righteousness; you must pray for more than guidance, you must pray for strength. The Missionary. He gave his body to save their souls".
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During the production shoot actor Michael Hordern taught Michael Palin fly-fishing.
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Michael Palin's first solo film venture outside of the Monty Python movies.
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Handmade Films executive producers Denis O'Brien and George Harrison asked Michael Palin to conceive of a movie idea of his own choosing during production on _Time Bandits_ and The Missionary (1982) was the result.
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For the casting of his principal cast, Michael Palin sought proper British thespians whose very proprietary itself would provide the very proper depth needed for their comic parts.
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The name of the mission was "The Church of England Mission to Fallen Women".
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Around the time of the movie's release, Michael Palin once said of this film's African shoot: "Fortescue the missionary earned the dubious distinction of being the only part I've ever played whilst being covered by a man with a loaded rifle. This happened as I was being filmed passing as near as possible to a herd of elephants. Whether the game ranger intended to shoot me or the elephants I shall never know!"
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The film was first released between the two Monty Python pictures Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983).
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Director Richard Loncraine has said of this film that it was "one of the happiest films I've ever made".
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Michael Palin has said on the audio-commentary that his scenes as the missionary with Michael Hordern as the butler may be the best ones he has ever appeared in.
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Actor Michael Palin and director Richard Loncraine have said that they didn't succeed in achieving everything they wanted to with the film but though not perfect the movie itself turned out very well nonetheless.
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DVD covers form a halo as the letter "O" in the film's "The Missionary" title. This type of gimmick had previously been long-known as being part of the promotional materials of the earlier The Saint (1962) TV series where the next-to-the-title Saint figure had a halo which would appear after the title was shown.
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Michael Palin performed a number of roles on this movie. Palin was sole writer, a producer and lead actor. The picture is also the only ever film where Palin is credited as a producer.
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The film was released in the same 1982 year as the concert comedy Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) which Michael Palin also starred in.
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Unlike most other solo ventures of the era helmed by one of the Monty Python comedy troupe, such as Brazil (1985), Yellowbeard (1983), Jabberwocky (1977), Time Bandits (1981), Erik the Viking (1989) and A Fish Called Wanda (1988), which all featured at least two Python performers on the cast, this film of Michael Palin only featured the one Python actor, as did John Cleese's Clockwise (1986) and Palin's later A Private Function (1984).
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