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Decline and Fall... of a Birdwatcher (1968)

A naive young man, sent down from university, blunders through a series of bizarre adventures in which his participation is always innocent, although others don't think so.


John Krish


Ivan Foxwell (adaptation), Alan Hackney (additional scenes) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robin Phillips ... Paul Pennyfeather
Felix Aylmer ... Judge
Colin Blakely ... Solomon Philbrick
Robert Harris ... Prendergast
Griffith Jones ... Sir Humphrey Maltravers
Patrick Magee ... Maniac
Leo McKern ... Captain Grimes
Geneviève Page ... Margot Beste-Chetwynde (as Genevieve Page)
Paul Rogers ... Chief Warder
Donald Sinden ... The Prison Governor
Donald Wolfit ... Dr. Augustus Fagan
Rodney Bewes ... Arthur Potts
Patience Collier ... Flossie Fagan
Roland Curram ... Otto Silenus
Kenneth Griffith Kenneth Griffith ... Mr. Church


A naive young man, sent down from university, blunders through a series of bizarre adventures in which his participation is always innocent, although others don't think so.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


"See that diamond-crusted, double-breasted bird over there?...that's mother. She wants to meet you."




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Release Date:

26 January 1969 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Decline and Fall See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


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Did You Know?


Robin Phillips receives an "and presenting" credit. See more »


Maniac: I like to read the Bible. There's a lot of killing in the Bible.
See more »


Referenced in Zodiac (2007) See more »


Men of Harlech
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User Reviews

Well worth watching
4 October 2016 | by keithrussell-58012See all my reviews

I love Evelyn Waugh's writing and have read a lot of biographies and critical works plus seen various films and TV adaptations. I only found out about this film recently and bought the DVD on Amazon.

On the basis of the various reviews, I approached seeing it more in the sense of duty to tick it off rather than from any expectations. However, I found it both enjoyable and reasonably faithful to the book. Yes, it is a bit labored in places and unnecessarily updated to the 1960s. But I think it catches the essence of Waugh, particularly the way that certain characters keep on reappearing in new guises..

The main characters were captured just right by a great cast of British actors.I would pick out Colin Blakely as Solomon Philbrick, Leo McKern as Captain Grimes, Robert Harris as Prendergast, and Donald Wolfit as Fagan. Genevieve Page is an enchanting and manipulative Margot Beste-Chetwynde. And Robin Phillips played Paul Pennyfeather as he should be, a lightweight and naive person who allows himself to be buffeted by Fortune.

It will be interesting to see the BBC version due to be released in 2017. However, this 1968 version has been undeservedly forgotten and is well worth watching.

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