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The Missionary (1982)

R | | Comedy | 5 November 1982 (USA)
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1:36 | Trailer

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In 1905, after ten years of missionary work in Africa, the Reverend Charles Fortescue (Michael Palin) is recalled to England, where his Bishop gives him his new assignment, to minister to ... 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 ten years of missionary work in Africa, the Reverend Charles Fortescue (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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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

Gross USA:

$7,241,180

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$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

Four significant British buildings were used for filming. They were the private home Longleat House in Wiltshire; the Tudor manor Dorney Court; Highclere Castle in Hampshire and Ardverikie House in Badenoch, Scotland. See more »

Quotes

Reverend Fortescue: Deborah, do you know what is meant by "fallen women"?
Deborah Fitzbanks: Women who have hurt their knees.
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

Featured in Live from the Lighthouse (1998) 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

 
Wacky but doesn't grate
24 September 2005 | by johnjredingtonSee all my reviews

Unlike American films where situation and reaction are usually the dominant elements of comedy, English cinema has a tendency to rely on outrageous or eccentric characterisation. It usually works well on a detailed level with typical stock characters such as irascible colonels, domineering great-aunts and frightfully keen twits but, quite often, individual actors get so caught up in their own characters that the film as a whole loses its sense of coherence.

The Missionary is a very traditional English comedy with the usual over-the-top collection of the innocent, the incompetent, the mad, the prim and proper and the sex-starved but, in this case, the characters lock well into each other like a jigsaw. Maybe it is due to a certain respect that stars like Maggie Smith, Michael Palin and Trevor Howard had for each other as they try to complement rather than overshadow each others' performances.

Once you find the pitch of the humour, this is a gem of a comedy and worth seeing alone for the batty directionally-challenged butler played by Michael Hordern.


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