The Missionary 2.0 stars

Rather retrograde British comedy, the intended cheekiness of which is thoroughly stifled by the familiarness and outmodedness of its targets: dotty clerics, dotty gentry, dotty menials, dotty anybodies, in Edwardian England. The familiarness is not entirely without benefits, such as, for example, the supreme ease with which the various comic types are handled by the cast: Michael Palin (who also wrote the neatly clipped dialogue), Trevor Howard, Maggie Smith, Michael Hordern, Denholm Elliott, and Pheobe Nicholls (grown up quite nicely since her memorable moppet performance in 1967's Our Mother's House). The whole thing goes completely cold, however, just about exactly halfway through, exactly when the plucky little -Anglican evangelist, fresh from eleven years in Darkest Africa, sets up his Mission for Fallen Women in London's East End. Getting to that point is a good bit of fun. Directed by Richard Loncraine. 1982.

Duncan Shepherd

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