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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 Mark Fuller

John Sweet's Fine
Acting in New Film

By Maud M.Miller

From: Manchester Daily Despatch
13 May 1944

"A CANTERBURY TALE" is outstanding for two things - the magnificent camerawork of Erwin Hillier and the performance of a young American, John Sweet.

     "A Canterbury Tale" was conceived, written and created, and produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, with the approbation of J. Arthur Rank. It is the first of the "Eagle-Lion" films to make its appearance on British screens, and deals with the adventures of three modern pilgrims who have Canterbury as their goal.

     We meet the modern pilgrims, a land girl, a British sergeant and an American sergeant. And Eric Portman, and snatches of scene-stealing from the blinded actor Esmond Knight. And hop fields with the sunlight on them and the nostalgic sound of the smithy's hammer and anvil.

     John Sweet is an American sergeant. Before the war he was a school teacher. Now he is a pen-pusher in the U.S. Records Department. Mickey Powell found him acting in the U.S. Army performance of "The Eve of St. Mark's". Six months' leave followed, and a new star is born. He is tall, with a Middle West drawl, and there is something of Gary Cooper in his personality. His acting is superb, and his film dialogue is so natural I suspect he re-wrote his own scenes.

     The only discordant note is the role given to Eric Portman, a magistrate whose love of Canterbury leads him to put glue in girls' hair on dark nights. He did not want girls in his village - but he might have realised that gentlemen who put glue in little girls' hair are apt to get stuck.

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