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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

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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Submitted by Nicky Smith

Film of Crew's Escape.


A bomber, "B for Bertie", is hit by anti-aircraft fire while raiding Stuttgart. the engines manage to carry her to Holland and then the crew of six bale out and the rest of the film is concerned with telling the story of their adventures before they see England again.

Straight-forward action on the surface and in the material there is little to suggest that this is an important British film. But even before the bomber is hit, there has been enough to indicate that the director, Mr Michael Powell, is interested in more than flight and pursuit, disguise and escape. He has, with the help of Mr Godfrey Tearle, Mr Bernard Miles, Mr Hugh Williams, Mr Eric Portman, Mr Hugh Burden and Mr Emrys Jones, established the personalities of the crew - baronet, garage proprietor, actor, Yorkshire businessman, pilot, professional footballer - and all of them continue to express themselves in their natural idiom.

The dialogue hits off their accents, and, when their parachutes bring them to Holland, it becomes clear that the people of that country will speak with the same sane clarity and will not be used crudely as necessary counters in the game of escape. Mr Powell does not say much and there are no shots of brutal Nazis bayoneting babies, but he conveys the brooding, oppressive, pervasive atmosphere that hangs over the occupied countries. The Nazis are there, and their presence is brought vividly to the senses by the scrape of their jack-boots on the stone floor of a church, by their shadows in an open doorway; and this sinister understatement of their power flings into relief the courage of a population which is prepared to work against them and to dare death to help those who pledged in the cause of freedom. Miss Pamela Brown, as a Dutch schoolmistress, who first mistrusts the English airmen and suspects them to be Nazi agents and Miss Googie Withers as the woman who makes the final arrangements for their voyage across the North Sea, are admirable in their suggestion of the nerve and resource of the Dutch women.


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