Taglines: He gave his body to save their souls.
In 1905, after 10 years of missionary work in Africa, the Rev. Charles Fortesque is recalled to England, where his bishop gives him his new assignment – to minister to London’s prostitutes. Charles hopes Deborah, his fiancee, will object and give him an excuse to say no to the bishop. But she is so imperturbably innocent that she totally fails to understand what he is being asked to do, and urges him to do his best. Wealthy Lady Ames is expected to fund the work, but once she makes it clear to Charles that there will be no contribution unless he shares her bed…
The Missionary is a 1982 British comedy film directed by Richard Loncraine, and starring Michael Palin and Maggie Smith. It was produced by George Harrison, Denis O’Brien, Palin (who also wrote the screenplay) and Neville C. Thompson.
About the Story
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, 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.
The Missionary (1982)
Directed by: Richard Loncraine
Starring: Michael Palin, Maggie Smith, Trevor Howard, Denholm Elliott, Michael Hordern, Phoebe Nicholls, Tricia George, Valerie Whittington
Screenplay by: Michael Palin
Cinematography by: Peter Hannan
Film Editing by: Paul Green
Costume Design by: Shuna Harwood
Art Direction by: Norman Garwood
Music by: Mike Moran
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: November 5, 1982