6.2/10
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The Missionary (1982)

R | | Comedy | 5 November 1982 (USA)
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1:35 | Trailer

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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 »

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 Neil Innes ... Singer in Gin Palace
John Barrett ... Old Man outside Hotel
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Storyline

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 <jbarrett@sbastk.ess.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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 »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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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:

A misszionárius See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,864,852, 7 November 1982, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$7,241,180
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

HandMade Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the production shoot actor Michael Hordern taught Michael Palin fly-fishing. See more »

Quotes

Reverend Fortescue: The locals had never seen a bicycle before. They used to call me "The Man on the Starving Horse."
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 »

Connections

Referenced in What the Pythons Did Next... (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Palin's pro's parable..
28 March 2010 | by LejinkSee all my reviews

I've recently finished reading Michael Palin's second set of diaries ("Halfway to Hollywood"), which includes sections covering the real-time writing and filming of this particular film and so was pleased to get the chance to view it.

It's a pleasantly diverting comedy taking gentle pot-shots at snobbery, the English class system, the church and as the title makes clear, the Edwardian outlook on sex, peopled by a top-drawer British cast in very good form.

Palin himself takes the lead part and if lacking a little in the masculine virility I think the part calls for, nonetheless masters as you'd expect the comic delivery for which he's well regarded. To be fair, he is definitely outshone by his co-lead, Maggie Smith, as the repressed wife of a titled benefactor, late of the street herself as Smith herself relates to us in a disarming Cockney accent near the end. Michael Hordern does a hilarious little cameo as a befuddled butler, likewise Denholm Elliott as a "sporty" bishop and Trevor Howard as the frightfully frightfully titled patron-husband of Smith. I also liked Phoebe Nicholl's little turn as Palin's dim and virginal intended bride with a penchant for cataloguing. Some of the characters do, however, seem like leftovers from Palin's wonderful "Ripping Yarns" series and occasionally the film does veer off the track a little too much into farce territory with the ending tapering off somewhat, but with Palin the writer often employing the familiar trick of finishing scenes with amusing jokes, he just about keeps the film on an even keel for its not overlong playing time.

As for the direction, I did find the lighting a little gloomy at times and I suppose lack of budget could have been slightly to blame for not quite delivering a convincing depiction of the squalid streets of London where Palin looks to lift up his fallen women (in the Gladstonian sense of the phrase, naturally).

On the whole though, a likable, at times highly amusing light comedy rather making me sad a little that Michael later got lost on his worldly travels (entertaining as they've been), at the expense of his writing and acting skills.


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