6.9/10
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23 user 11 critic

Major Barbara (1941)

Approved | | Comedy | 2 August 1941 (UK)
A young and idealistic woman, who has adopted the Salvation Army and whose father is an armament industrialist, will save more souls directing her father's business. A comedy with social commentary.

Directors:

Gabriel Pascal, Harold French (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

George Bernard Shaw (original play), George Bernard Shaw (scenario and dialogue) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Wendy Hiller ... Major Barbara Undershaft
Rex Harrison ... Adolphus Cusins
Robert Morley ... Andrew Undershaft
Robert Newton ... Bill Walker
Sybil Thorndike ... The General
Emlyn Williams ... Snobby Price
Marie Lohr ... Lady Britomart
Penelope Dudley-Ward ... Sarah Undershaft
Walter Hudd ... Stephen Undershaft
David Tree ... Charles Lomax
Deborah Kerr ... Jenny Hill
Donald Calthrop ... Peter Shirley
Marie Ault ... Rummy Mitchens
Cathleen Cordell ... Mog Habbijam
Torin Thatcher ... Todger Fairmile
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Storyline

A young and idealistic woman, who has adopted the Salvation Army and whose father is an armament industrialist, will save more souls directing her father's business. A comedy with social commentary.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 August 1941 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Майор Барбара See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie received its earliest documented U.S. telecasts in Chicago and Cincinnati on Sunday, October 23, 1949 on WGN (Channel 9) and on WLW-T (Channel 4), in Detroit on Sunday, October 30, 1949 on WWJ (Channel 4), in Atlanta on Wednesday, November 16, 1949 on WSB (Channel 8), in New York City on Friday, January 20, 1950 on WPIX (Channel 11), and in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 4, 1950 on KTLA (Channel 5). See more »

Goofs

(at around 1h 35 mins) Just before she scolds her husband for addressing her as "Biddy", a boom mic shadow passes over the lace trim on the bosom of Lady Britomart's (Marie Lohr) gown. See more »

Quotes

Stephen Underschaft: I'm sorry sir that you force me to forget the respect due to you as my father. I'm an Englishman, I will not hear the government of my country insulted!
Andrew Underschaft: The government of your country! I am the government of your country! I and Lazarus. Do you suppose that you and half a dozen amateurs like you, sitting in a row in that foolish gavel shop, can govern a country like England? Be off with you my boy, and play with your historic parties, and leading articles, and burning questions, and the rest of ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

As originally released, this featured a spoken prologue featuring George Bernard Shaw himself, but it has been cut from all TV and VHS prints. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #27.62 (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds
(uncredited)
Music by Alexander Reinagle (1836)
Words by John Newton (1779)
Arranged by William Walton
See more »

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User Reviews

But what about Boss Mangam?
22 February 2005 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

I happen to like this film. It is almost as good as "Pygmalion", the previous Shaw - Pascal collaboration, but that film had Leslie Howard in it as Higgins, and as co-director. Here, although Wendy Hiller is back, Howard is not involved and Rex Harrison is the romantic lead (and the philosophic lead is Robert Morley, as the man of wealth Andrew (or, as Shaw says, "St. Andrew") Undershaft). It has a grand cast supporting these three, including Mary Lohr, Deborah Kerr, Emlyn Wiliams, and Robert Newton (for once showing what a terrific actor he was when not drunk). The best parts are when Newton tries to be stoical and get knocked down to show he can take what he gives out to weaker types. He does get under the skin of Torin Thatcher (as a reformed boxing champ, named Todger Fairchild), only to have Thatcher humiliate him by forcing him to pray.

Shaw the comic dramatist is always a treat. Shaw the self-created man with all the answers is another problem. "Major Barbara" is a look at how money is made by ways that are spiritually appalling (armaments and booze for example), but which guarantee jobs and hope to people who can't get them from the world of religion. One probably can agree with this point of view, but the constant pushing of Undershaft's point of view - nobody ever trounces him in an argument - is annoying. He seems omnipotent in this play (as Shaw, no doubt, wanted him to be). I once suggested that it would have been delightful if after one of his speeches he had actually had coughed blood (to show he was mortal). But Shaw never would have done that to St. Andrew.

Yet he did do something within a decade after writing "Major Barbara" that was inconsistent. Shaw probably never willingly discussed it with anyone. Undershaft rules his armaments firm with a total control. He dictates to the government on policies he needs. The stockholders don't seem to exist. But in 1916 Shaw's optimism about dictatorial capitalists had faded. World War I shattered him a bit, and he wrote "Heartbreak House". In it is the character of "Boss Mangam", a powerful business tycoon like Undershaft, who proves to have feet of clay. It seems the great tycoon has to satisfy those stockholders or his empire is taken from him. The same, of course, has to be true of "St. Andrew" Undershaft as well. He probably is his largest shareholder, but he never says he is sole shareholder. Undershaft was quite content and pontifical in 1907 when he describes his religion of cannons and prosperity for all who listen to him. But that was peacetime. Somehow, in 1916, "St. Andrew" would probably have found it harder to be as glib about his doctrines as he had been.


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