The Info List - The Missionary

The Missionary
is a 1982 British comedy film directed by Richard Loncraine, and starring Michael Palin
Michael Palin
and Maggie Smith. It was produced by George Harrison, Denis O'Brien, Palin (who also wrote the screenplay) and Neville C. Thompson.


1 Plot 2 Cast 3 See also 4 References 5 External links

Plot[edit] Church of England
Church of England
Reverend Charles Fortescue (Palin) works as a missionary in Africa for ten years, then returns to England in the spring of 1906. As the ship docks, a fellow passenger, later identified as Lady Isabel Ames (Smith), bumps into him by accident. Charles is to wed Deborah Fitzbanks, the daughter of a fellow clergyman. She was only a child when he left, but is now a young woman eager to be married and have lots of children; however, she dislikes being touched by him. The Bishop of London gives him a new assignment, to set up a mission to rescue the women of the evening who frequent the London Docklands, but cannot offer him any funding. To assist him, Deborah writes to Lord Ames, the richest man in England. Charles reluctantly calls at their enormous mansion. The place has so many rooms that Slatterthwaite, the longtime butler, constantly has trouble finding his way about. He does eventually manage to bring Charles to the Ameses. Lord Ames loathes missionaries (among other things), but Lady Ames is inclined to contribute, especially as she finds him attractive (and tells him so). Somewhat alarmed, Charles tries to leave, but she insists he spend the night. Late that night, she comes to his room. He tries to get her to leave, but when they hear someone coming, she hides under his bed covers. It turns out to be Slatterthwaite, lost once again. After he realises that this is not his room, he departs. Isabel then takes advantage of the situation to take advantage of Charles. Satisfied, she funds his mission. Charles industriously sets to work, but the first prostitute he speaks to is highly skeptical. When he insists he does not look down upon her, she challenges him to prove it by sleeping with her. Apparently he does, as word quickly spreads of his unorthodox methods, and his mission is soon filled with young women. When Isabel pays a visit, she discovers him exhausted and sleeping on the floor, with three naked women in his bed. She cuts off her contributions. The women resume their trade to keep the mission going. When Charles tries to explain himself, Isabel states that she was hoping he would help her to change her life (Lord Ames, it turns out, does not have anything physically to do with her), and now she threatens to do it herself. (She also reveals that she herself was once a fallen woman.) From this, Charles correctly guesses that she intends to have her husband murdered. He races to their Scottish estate on the day of his wedding and manages to foil a hunting "accident" by Corbett, an ardent admirer of Isabel. Meanwhile, the Bishop of London receives numerous complaints from other denominations about Charles's unusual methods. He gives Charles two choices: leave the mission or the Church. Charles chooses the latter, and is joined by Isabel. Photos at the end of the film show that they have two children together. Cast[edit]

Michael Palin
Michael Palin
as The Reverend Charles Fortescue Maggie Smith
Maggie Smith
as Lady Isabel Ames Trevor Howard
Trevor Howard
as Lord Henry Ames Denholm Elliott
Denholm Elliott
as The Bishop Michael Hordern
Michael Hordern
as Slatterthwaite/Narrator Graham Crowden
Graham Crowden
as The Reverend Fitzbanks David Suchet
David Suchet
as Corbett Phoebe Nicholls as Deborah Fitzbanks Roland Culver as Lord Fermleigh Rosamund Greenwood as Lady Fermleigh Timothy Spall
Timothy Spall
as Parswell Neil Innes
Neil Innes
as Singer in Gin Palace

See also[edit]

Rev. Harold Davidson, the "Prostitutes' Padre" whose attempts to rescue young girls from vice got him defrocked by the Church of England in 1932.


^ Robert Sellers, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: The Inside Story of HandMade Films, Metro 2003, pp. 111–120 ^ " Missionary
(2014) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. 

External links[edit]

The Missionary
at the British Film Institute's Screenonline The Missionary
at AllMovie The Missionary
on IMDb The Missionary
at British Comedy Guide

v t e

Films directed by Richard Loncraine

Slade in Flame
Slade in Flame
(1975) Full Circle (1977) Secret Orchards
Secret Orchards
(1979) Blade on the Feather (1980) The Missionary
(1982) Brimstone and Treacle (1982) Bellman and True
Bellman and True
(1987) Wide-Eyed and Legless (1993) Richard III (1995) The Gathering Storm (2002) My House in Umbria
My House in Umbria
(2003) Wimbledon (2004) Firewall (2006) My One and Only (2009) The Special
Relationship (2010) 5 Flights Up
5 Flights Up
(2014) Finding Your Feet (2018)

v t e

HandMade Films


Monty Python's Life of Brian
Monty Python's Life of Brian
(1979) A Sense of Freedom
A Sense of Freedom
(1979) The Long Good Friday (1980) Time Bandits
Time Bandits
(1981) Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl
Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl
(1982) Scrubbers
(1982) The Missionary
(1982) Privates on Parade (1982) Bullshot (1983) A Private Function (1984) Water (1985) Mona Lisa (1986) Shanghai Surprise
Shanghai Surprise
(1986) Withnail and I
Withnail and I
(1987) Bellman and True
Bellman and True
(1987) The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne
(1987) Track 29
Track 29
(1988) Five Corners (1988) The Raggedy Rawney (1988) Checking Out (1989) How to Get Ahead in Advertising
How to Get Ahead in Advertising
(1989) Powwow Highway (1989) Cold Dog Soup (1989) Nuns on the Run
Nuns on the Run
(1990) The Wrong Guy
The Wrong Guy
(1997) Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
(1998) Manolete (2008) Fifty Dead Men Walking
Fifty Dead Men Walking
(2008) Planet 51
Planet 51
(2009) Cracks (2009) 127 Hours (2010)

As distributor

Tattoo (1981) Venom (1981) The Burning (1982)


Eloise: The Animated Series (2006)

See also

George Harrison Denis O'Brien Apple Films Pa