The Masters  
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

A Canterbury Tale

By Edgar Anstey

From: The Spectator
19 May 1944

A Canterbury Tale also contains authentic sequences of a place and a people. Here it is the Kent countryside close by our own doorstep rather than a village in the Mexican hinterland, and the people are the farmers, blacksmiths and wheelwrights of Kent. Then there is an American sergeant (Sgt John Sweet) who in his first film gives a warm and natural characterisation which is the best piece of propaganda for America that has yet reached our screen. He is supported by established professionals from whom Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger have obtained performances of great credibility. The background is excellent (photographed by Erwin Hillier with a real sense of the essential qualities of English countryside and architecture), but the narrative is a bewildering mixture of pleasant fancy and unpleasant sadism. The idea of a modern pilgrimage in the wake of Chaucer was excellent, but in a most mysterious manner its accomplishment has been made to turn upon the curious habits of a local magistrate who pours glue on young women in order to boost male attendances at his archaeological lectures. Messrs. Powell and Pressburger certainly can be counted upon to set us a pretty psychological problem in any film theme they evolve. A Canterbury Tale is well worth seeing for its homely episodes in farmyard, field and lecture-room. Beneath the glue there are many real virtues.

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