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Passport to Pimlico (1949)

Approved | | Comedy | 26 October 1949 (USA)
Residents of a part of London declare independence, when they discover an old treaty. This leads to the need for a 'Passport to Pimlico'.



(original screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Betty Warren ...
Duke of Burgundy
John Slater ...
Jane Hylton ...
Philip Stainton ...
Roy Carr ...
Benny Spiller
Sydney Tafler ...
Nancy Gabrielle ...
Mrs. Cowan
Malcolm Knight ...
Monty Cowan
Roy Gladdish ...
Frederick Piper ...


When an un-exploded WWII bomb is accidentally detonated in Pimlico, London, it reveals a treasure trove. They find documents proving that the region is, in fact, part of Burgundy, France and thus foreign territory. The British government attempts to regain control by setting up border controls and cutting off services to the area. The 'Burgundians' fight back. Written by Stephen Parkin <stephen@spcap.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's the wittiest comedy in years! See more »




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 October 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Pasaporte para Pimlico  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


| (2005 DVD release)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


In Spain -after a TV premiere (1973)- the film had a theatrical release (July 2015) 66 years later. Was released in 2 theaters (Madrid and Barcelona, Cines Verdi) in subtitled version and was only projected for 4 days. See more »


Approx 1 hour in, during the showing of the news reel, where they are throwing cans and buckets in the air and the phrase 'hitting the production target' is said, one of those people are hit by a falling item with visible distress. See more »


P.C. Spiller: Blimey, I'm a foreigner.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The J. Arthur Rank logo segues into the opening credits. See more »


Featured in Forever Ealing (2002) See more »


Music by Charles Williams
Chappell Recorded Music Library
"Siege of Burgundy" newsreel in cinema
See more »

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User Reviews

"It's just because we are English that we're sticking up for our right to be Burgundians!"
20 December 2007 | by See all my reviews

Say what you like about the cinematic importance of the Ealing Studios comedies of the late 1940s and early 1950s, but nobody can deny that pretty much all of them have a lot of heart, and always provide 90 minutes of solid, quirky entertainment. My #7 film from the studio is 'Passport to Pimlico (1949),' directed by Henry Cornelius {in his directorial debut}, which tells the peculiar story of a small London district that unexpectedly becomes its own separate nation. After a bomb left over from WWII accidentally detonates underground, a local resident of Pimlico discovers a stash of treasure belonging to Charles VII "The Rash", the last Duke of Burgundy. Also discovered is an ancient document declaring that the small district, in actual fact, is the last existing slice of Burgundian land, effectively making it a country of its own. The small band of friendly residents are initially excited about this discovery, but have some misgivings when criminals and black-market dealers realise that the London police have absolutely no jurisdiction in the streets of Pimlico. While the British government entangles the issue in lengths of red-tape, the newly-realised nation of Burgundy tries desperately to sort itself out.

The scenario behind 'Passport to Pimlico' really isn't as ludicrous as it initially sounds. The screenplay, written by T.E.B. Clarke {who also wrote 'The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)'}, was inspired by a real-life occurrence during World War Two, when the Canadian government decreed that a maternity ward belonged officially to the Netherlands, to accommodate the birth of Princess Juliana's child {under Dutch law, a royal heir had to be born in the Netherlands in order to be eligible for succession to the throne}. It also appears that some of the events in the film were based upon the Berlin Blockade (June 24, 1948 – May 11, 1949), in which Western forces bypassed the Soviet blockades to sectors of Berlin via airlifts of food and other provisions. In this film, the British government's attempts to starve-out the troublesome Burgundians prove unsuccessful after crowds of sympathetic Londoners bombard the district with supplies, even air-dropping a fully-grown pig with a parachute.

Though the story occasionally drags, 'Passport to Pimlico' proves worthwhile thanks to its unique storyline and a collection of entertaining characters. Police Constable Sid Spiller (Philip Stainton) is probably the film's funniest, particularly when he first realises the implications of Pimlico becoming its own nation ("Blimey, I'm a foreigner!") and when, working undercover to procure water for the reservoir, he must elude a drunk who simply insists on being arrested. Other notable players include Stanley Holloway, Betty Warren, Margaret Rutherford and Hermione Baddeley. Notably, Clarke's screenplay was nominated at the 1950 Oscars, and the film was nominated for Best British film at the 1950 BAFTA awards – in the latter category, Cornelius' film lost to Carol Reed's masterpiece 'The Third Man (1949),' but it was in good company. Also nominated were the other Ealing classics, 'Kind Hearts and Coronets,' 'Whisky Galore!' and {a favourite of mine} 'A Run For Your Money.'

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