Director: Henry Cornelius
Stars: Stanley Holloway, Margaret Rutherford, Paul Dupuis, Betty Warren, Barbara Murray, Charles Hawtrey
The plot – as if I need to remind anyone – begins with the unplanned detonation of a WW2 bomb. The explosion uncovers a whole heap of treasure, along with documents that prove that the area around a few streets in Pimlico is actually sovereign territory of Burgundy, after it was ceded to the then Duke by King Edward IV.
The locals realise they are rich, and also no longer subject to rationing, licensing laws, and other restrictions. However, the area quickly becomes a beacon for spivs and black marketeers, and to stop this, the British close the border.
Solving the problem of what to do with the locals becomes harder, as the representatives of the various Government officials and the new Burgundians become intransigent. The arrival of the current Duke of Burgundy just adds to the locals’ sense of freedom and privilege.
Cue water and food shortages, and tube trains being stopped at the border. Something needs to be done…
There’s a charm and an innocence about this endearing comedy, with some very funny moments, and some sparkling dialogue, such as when the local copper declares “Blimey! I’m a foreigner!”
Literally strewn with images of post-war London in the process of rebuilding, there is a timeless value as a history piece here. It’s a reminder of the boundless (and sometimes mindless) optimism that carried Britons through the early post-war years and through some very hard times. Most of all, though, it’s hilarious.
One of Ealing’s finest.