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After an unexploded World War II bomb found in Pimlico, a part of
London, England, goes off rather by accident, its ihabitants find a
treasure vault that houses a forgotten fortune that's beyond anybody's
wildest dreams, but when the crown wants to confiscate it, a charta is
discovered among the gold and trinkets that claims that Pimlico is not a
part of London (or England or Great Britain for that matter) at all but
was written over to the Duke of Burgundy 500 years ago. And since it was
never re-nationalized since then, it as of now is a seperate state, all
that's left of the souvereign state of Burgundy, actually.
this is a relief for all those living in Pimlico, as this way they are
relieved of all the rigid laws of post war London: No more closing times,
no more life according to ration books, and due to lack of British
jurisdiction the black market becomes an open market in Pimlico.
doesn't like these developments at all, and they try to enforce British
laws in Pimlico, but soon have to relalize they can't, legally, so they
build a border around the few blocks that make Pimlico, complete with a
barbed wire fence and custom offices. This of course can go two ways, as
the inhabitants of Pimlico soon find out and they stop the subway from
passing through underneath their soil.
For some time, Pimlico flourishes
thanks to the efforts of Arthur Pemberton (Stanley Holloway), who formerly
was no more than a little councilman, the actual Duke of Burgundy (Paul
Dupuis), who has long given up his title but has come to "his"
Pimlico out of a sense of adventure rather than to actually rule, and an
eccentric professor (Margaret Rutherford), who has put the state of
Pimlico on a legal foundation - but then the British gouvernment, afraid
to lose face, pretty much puts Pimlico under siege, cutting off the food
supply, and when an accident destroys all the stored food, the ci´tizens
of Pimlico are ready to give up - when the newspapers pick up the story
and create a David vs Goliath scenario, thus causing great sympathy among
the Londoners with the citizens of Pimlico - and soon, the populace of
London feeds Pimlico by throwing food over the barbed wires, and air
supply is installed.
Still, after months of hardship and British
bullying, the citizens of Pimlico want to become Londoners again, and
somehow strike a bargain favourable to them that puts Pimlico on loan to
the British. The banquet to celebrate this is rained in though ...
At least to some extent, Passport to Pimlico is a clever satire on
Cold War politics (this film was produced at a time when Berlin was
divided) with a large chunk of British humour thrown into the mix. Now
that sounds excellent, but Passport to Pimlico is rather a charming
yet forgettable little comedy than a perfect film: It succeeds in making
fun of the then current political situation, and it makes some universal
comments along the way, but it fails to really bring the story to life,
fails to fuel it with interesting characters, characters to sympathize
with, so at least to some extent, this film feels like a thesis movie - a
pretty funny one, but still - rather than a great comedy.
That all said,
the film is still fun, it's just not the film it should/could have been.