6.2/10
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21 user 11 critic

The Missionary (1982)

R | | Comedy | 5 November 1982 (USA)
Trailer
1:36 | Trailer
In 1905, after ten years of missionary work in Africa, the Reverend Charles Fortescue (Sir Michael Palin) is recalled to England, where his Bishop gives him his new assignment, to minister ... See full summary »

Director:

Richard Loncraine

Writer:

Michael Palin
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Palin ... The Reverend Charles Fortescue
Maggie Smith ... Lady Isabel Ames
Trevor Howard ... Lord Henry Ames
Denholm Elliott ... The Bishop
Michael Hordern ... Slatterthwaite / Narrator
Graham Crowden ... The Reverend Fitzbanks
David Suchet ... Corbett
Phoebe Nicholls ... Deborah Fitzbanks
Tricia George ... Ada
Valerie Whittington Valerie Whittington ... Emmeline
Roland Culver ... Lord Fermleigh
Rosamund Greenwood Rosamund Greenwood ... Lady Fermleigh
Timothy Spall ... Parswell
Neil Innes ... Singer in Gin Palace
John Barrett ... Old Man outside Hotel
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Storyline

In 1905, after ten years of missionary work in Africa, the Reverend Charles Fortescue (Sir Michael Palin) is recalled to England, where his Bishop gives him his new assignment, to minister to London's prostitutes. Charles hopes Deborah Fitzbanks (Phoebe Nicholls), his fiancée, 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 Isabel Ames (Dame Maggie Smith) 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 <jbarrett@sbastk.ess.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He gave his body to save their souls. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie was released between the two Monty Python movies Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982) and Monty Python's The Meaning of Life (1983). See more »

Quotes

[Isabel has been injured]
Reverend Fortescue: I'm sorry. Dear, God, I'm so sorry.
Lady Isabel Ames: You were only trying to do the decent thing.
[Fortescue begins to drape his coat around her]
Lady Isabel Ames: No, don't Charles.
[He continues anyway]
Lady Isabel Ames: That's the trouble with you. You're far too decent.
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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 »


Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
Shows what we had in Hordern/Harrison/Elliott. Sad, sad losses.
13 March 2008 | by legspinnerSee all my reviews

This is a delightful film. Watch it with two or three of you in the room, because laughter is infectious. As ever with films that Harrison invests in, it's not afraid to mix styles, but also, there is no point that it labours. Too often films are afraid of changing their tone, as if they had to nail their colours to the 'tonal' mast early on and then obey that: a screwball comedy has to be screwball, a period piece has to be charming, engaging, but not dramatic, etc etc etc.

The script, written by Palin himself, is an absolute gem, and for once his silliness is kept well within bounds. As someone else said, this isn't the 'expansio ad absurdum' technique of fine, fine Python, nor the pull-faces-and-use-silly-words-can't-think-of-an-idea of Palin on his off days. Enough, but not enough, has been written about the cast, all of whom provide top-notch performances. Whom to praise most? I note as well, that the "Memorable Quotes" section still misses what may be the funniest exchange in the whole film, the sequence which begins, "You know perfectly well why we got rid of Margetson." The only people who are going to be disappointed by this film are those people who have dogmatic views about what a Palin film should be, or who think a comedy should spare them the trouble of thinking and leave them in a heap of rubble on the floor. Take the film on its own merits and, though you might think of ideas which the film didn't touch, places where it didn't go, you will still find enough in there to remember those ninety minutes fondly. Would I see it again? When's it on next?


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Handmade Films Website

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 November 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Missionary See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,864,852, 7 November 1982

Gross USA:

$7,241,180

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,241,180
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

HandMade Films See more »
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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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