Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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Daring, perception link Powell's films
By TOM SABULIS
of Knight-Ridder Newspapers
(Tampa Tribune, 24th February 1990)
British film maker Michael Powell died last week, no better known in this country than he ever was, but stills ecure in the pantheon of great innovative film makers.
Powell's autobiography, "A Life in Movies", gives some idea of the wit, candour and ego that made him such an interesting movie maker.
Although he is best known for directing the ballet masterpiece The Red Shoes, Powell never achieved real fame in the United States. He spurned offers to work in Hollywood, and his love affair with Deborah Kerr ended when the actress signed with MGM and he refused to emigrate.
A certain magical daring and depth of perception - as well as the occasional cornball romanticism - lin his films despite their varying subject matters.
Many of his best pictures were made in partnership with Emeric Pressburger, the Hungarian-born screenwriter with whom he formed a production company.
Aside from The Red Shoes, they made Black Narcissus, a strangely erotic tale about Anglican nuns trying to establish a Himalayan mission; The Tales of Hoffmann, a stylized film version of the opera; I Know Where I'm Going, the Scottish love story that served as inspiration for Bill Forsythe's Local Hero; and A Matter of Life and Death (retitled Stairway to Heaven for its American release.
Eventually, Powell paid the price for his artistic risk-taking. In 1960, he was all but blacklisted for making Peeping Tom, abaout a psychopathic photographer who films the deaths of prostitutes as he kills them.
While the Hitchcock shocer Psycho became a hit in America the same year, British critics attacjed Peeping Tom and the distributor pulled it from theatres.
He was heard from again when Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola sponsored a renaissance of his films in the '70s. Coppola hired him as senior director in residence at Zoetrope Studios, and the Museum of Modern Art organized a massive tribute to his work in 1980.