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Submitted by Richard Layne

Directors of the Thirties - Michael Powell

Found some comments on Powell by John Grierson, written (presumably) in 1932 shortly after the release of "The Star Reporter", from an article called "Directors of the Thirties".

This is included in "Grierson on Documentary" (1947) - the footnote is from Forsyth Handy, who edited the book.


Michael Powell is a young director who promises to stand up presently in the publicity line with Asquith and Hitchcock. I threw him a bouquet for his film "Rynox", and in "Star Reporter" he again demonstrates the same solid ability and (more important still) the same solid certainty of himself. The story is by Philip MacDonald, the detective writer, and by Ralph Smart, who made the film on Port Sunlight. Powell not only makes a slick businesslike job of it, but gets a very considerable size into his presentation of one or two of the sequences. This is going some for a film produced at speed.

The passage showing the arrival of the Berengaria demonstrates a unique power of observation which promises much. His angles are strong, his continuity, shot by shot, direct and definite. Powell can certainly see things. One only waits now for evidence of his powers to recognize ideas. "Rynox" was the story of an insurance swindle; "Star Reporter" is the story of a stolen diamond with a Fleet Street reporter marrying into Mayfair. This sort of thing may be all right to practice on but it obviously cannot be taken seriously. Powell must step presently into something more sensible.

Editor's note:
It was not long before this invitation was accepted. Powell made The Edge of the World (1935-37) on Foula in the Shetlands and, during the war, films of such quality as 49th Parallel (The Invaders in America), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, One of Our Aircraft is Missing, A Canterbury Tale, and I Know Where I'm Going.-F.H.

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