The Missionary

Along with Local Hero, this marks a return to the kind of gentle comedy drama that has more in common with the old Ealing films than with the zaniness of Monty Python. A naive missionary returns from colonial Africa to be sent among the Fallen Women of Edwardian London. From them he learns that missionary has another meaning, which he embraces with the fervour of a man finding his true vocation. Affectionate treatment of English eccentrics - choleric general (Howard), aristocratic nympho (Smith), dotty butler (Hordern), keep-fit bishop (Elliott) - maintains interest between the rather meagrely distributed comic set pieces. But despite stylish direction, Palin's artless vicar is too familiar and too supine to carry a full-length film, a personal project in which he seems oddly self-effacing.

Release details

Duration: 86 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Richard Loncraine
Screenwriter: Michael Palin
Cast: Michael Palin
Maggie Smith
Trevor Howard
Denholm Elliott
Graham Crowden
David Suchet
Michael Hordern
Phoebe Nicholls
Roland Culver
Timothy Spall
Frances Barber
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