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.

A lot of the documents have been sent to me or have come from other web sites. The name of the web site is given where known. If I have unintentionally included an image or document that is copyrighted or that I shouldn't have done then please email me and I'll remove it.

I make no money from this site, it's purely for the love of the films.

[Any comments are by me (Steve Crook) and other members of the email list]

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Fascinating trivia (and any goofs) connected with the film

- Captain C.W.R. Knight (Col. Barnstable) was a real life falconer and trained the golden eagle "Torquil" in this film (the eagle's real name was "Mr Ramshaw and Capt. Knight toured the world with him, wrote a few books and pamphlets and appeared in a few documentaries)

- Powell and Pressburger wanted to make A Matter of Life and Death (1946) at this time but had to wait for access to Technicolor cameras which were all in use making US Army training films.

- Joan's itinerary says that she'll arrive in Glasgow at 6.30am but it's 7.05 by the station clock when they arrive. Trains didn't always run on time back then either :)

- Joan takes the ferry from Oban to Tobermory, thence to "Port Erraig" on Mull. Nowadays there is a ferry directly from Oban to Colonsay (Kiloran).

- Emeric Pressburger wrote the whole story in 5 days.

- James Mason was originally cast as Torquil but declined when told he would have to "live rough" in the islands. Ironically Roger Livesey never went to the islands because he was in a West End show at the time (Pete Ustinov's play "Banbury Nose") and never went further North than Denham studio. A double was used for long shots and all close ups are shot in the studio.

- Some of the shots of the whirlpool were shot by Michael Powell himself with a hand held camera.

- Cinematographer Erwin Hillier never used a light meter during the shooting of this movie.

- Director Michael Powell was never happy with the line by Pamela Brown (Catriona) during the girl's chat after the adventure in the boat.

You can sell Erraig and Torquil could sell Kiloran.
Ye-es, but money isn't everything.
Powell took 22 takes, VERY rare for such a close team, but was never happy. Many years later he told Pamela that it wasn't her delivery that was in doubt it was the line that was wrong. He realised after they'd finished the film that he should have had Catriona reply "Yes, but then we'd only have the money". Pamela then proceeded to hit him repeatedly.

- A travel book of the area produced after the war included photos of the "famous whirlpool of Corryvreckan". It claimed to show the only authentic picture of Corryvreckan at it's most powerful. Michael Powell never had the heart to tell the author that it was actually a shot from the tank at Denham Studio and that it had cost him £40,000 to get those shots on the screen.

- Roger Livesey was told that, at almost 40, he was too old and too portly to play Torquil. Livesey soon managed to lose 20 pounds and altered his appearance to play the young Lieutenant.

- The art department spent £40,000 - mainly on the tank and the whirlpool.

- In 1947 Emeric Pressburger met the head of the script department at Paramount who told Emeric that they used I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) as an example of the perfect screenplay which was shown to any writers stuck for inspiration or who needed a lesson in screen writing.

- The driver of the bus to Tobermory was Neil MacKechnie. The bus was run by Cowes the then owners of the MacDonald Arms Hotel in Tobermory.

- The dance music in Manchester was performed by Phil Green and his orchestra

- In the opening credits, as the factory gate swings shut the top bar on it is partially obscured by the hanging miniature that adds another floor to the factory - which is really the front offices of Denham Studios.

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