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

Norah Alexander's
Film Page

What a week - if you like to argue

From: Sunday Pictorial
14 May 1944

Much as I'd hate to spoil a picture for you by revealing the plot, today I'm bringing you the low-down on two very different films.

     Both are new and controversial. You're bound to hear them talked about. At least, if you know the background, you'll be able to join in.

     First, there's that much-boosted British picture "A Canterbury Tale" (Odeon). Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, who made it, tell me this is the most ambitious film they've done. As their three previous pictures were "49th Parallel","One of Our Aircraft" and "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp", you'll agree that this particular brainchild should be good.

     Yet the few people who've seen it so far will tell you widely differing tales. Some say it's their best picture ever, some say it's their first flop. (And this isn't any "woman's" picture like a "Man In Grey" which bored the boys to sobs).

     No sir. It's a long, slow-moving collection of beautiful English landscapes strung together on a thin, fantastic plot.

     Me, I'm all for beautiful English landscapes, but I like 'em better with a proper plot. What do you say?

     Like "Blimp","A Canterbury Tale" is slow and muddled. You spend 124 minutes watching two days in the life of a bunch of modern pilgrims, and in the end you don't know what it's all about.

     There's lots of vague, patriotic uplift, yet the main character's a black-out prowler who molests village girls by messing up their hair with gum.

     On the credit side, there's the superb photography, some very pastoral laughs and Sergeant Sweet.

     Twenty-six-year old John Stevens Sweet is the U.S. Army sergeant who plays a U.S. Army sergeant and steals the show. A clergyman's son who plans to be a teacher, Sergeant Sweet's only acting experience has been in the Army, and you won't be seeing him again this side of peace.

     On balance, I'd say you'd better see this picture, but I'm warning you it's not a patch on "Colonel Blimp".

     You may be pleased, you may be disappointed. Myself I'm giving it a score of SIX POINTS OUT OF TEN.

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