Passport To Pimlico. Image shows from L to R: Mr. P.J. Wix (Raymond Huntley), Arthur Pemberton (Stanley Holloway), Gregg (Basil Radford), Straker (Naunton Wayne). Copyright: Ealing Studios / STUDIOCANAL

Key details

Genre
Film
Released
1949
Stars
Stanley Holloway, Hermione Baddeley, Margaret Rutherford, Paul Dupuis, Raymond Huntley, John Slater, Jane Hylton, Betty Warren and more
Writer
T.E.B. Clarke
Director
Henry Cornelius
Producers
Michael Balcon and E. V. H. Emmett
Companies

It is 1947 and amidst the post-Blitz ravages of war-torn London, redevelopment is slowly beginning to take place. But whilst children play happily on the impromptu playgrounds created by bomb sites, their parents are still struggling with the continued hardship of the age and strict rationing on food and clothing in particular.

When a group of Pimlico children accidentally detonate an unexploded German bomb on just such a levelled site, the adults rush to assist and shopkeeper Arthur Pemberton manages to slip into the deep hole, still billowing dust. Dazed, he is not sure what he can see at the bottom, but a return visit later that night with his adult daughter quickly confirms the discovery of a long-forgotten chamber containing an astounding haul of treasure and an historic royal charter. Calling in an expert from one of London's top universities, it is established to be a never-revoked charter stating that the area - modern Pimlico - is not in fact English soil, but part of the Duchy of Burgundy.

The residents are initially shocked by news of their new technical nationality, but when they realise it offers them the chance to be free of rationing, Sunday trading laws, sales taxes and pub licensing regulations, they jump into their new-found nationhood with both feet!

However, things become problematic when the Burgundians try to deal with Whitehall. As they attempt to reach an agreement with the British governmental machine over cross-border relations, the officials push back hard. Matters quickly escalate and Burgundy is left completely isolated, the border marked by rolls of barbed wire and patrolled day and night by a police watch.

The Burgundians find England looks rosier by the minute when they are cut off from the water network and their food supplies run low, but Whitehall soon realises it hasn't counted on the free-spirited, anti-authoritarian feeling of other ordinary Londoners, and indeed the wider country at large!

Additional details

Tagline
French goings-on in the heart of London
UK certificate
U
Duration
84 minutes
UK release
Tuesday 26th April 1949
Distributors

General Film Distributors

Production
Studio
Camera set-up
Single camera
Picture
Black and white
Soundtrack
Music composed by Georges Auric, played by The Philharmonia Orchestra, and conducted by Ernest Irving.

Website links

Broadcast details

Most recent repeats
  • Friday 27th May 2022 at 6:15pm on TPTV
  • Friday 6th May 2022 at 1:00pm on BBC2
  • Sunday 13th March 2022 at 7:20pm on TPTV

Recording details

  • Ealing Studios - Studios
  • Lambeth - Location filming took place in Lambeth

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