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I Know Where I'm Going!
Directors/screenwriters: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger.
Cinematographers: Erwin Hiller, (operator) Cecil Cooney.
Production designer: Alfred Junge.
Music: (composer) Allan Gray, (conductor) Walter Goehr.
Editor: John Seabourne.
Sound recording: C. C. Stevens.
Special effects: Henry Harris.
Assistant director: John Tunstall.
Cast: Wendy Hiller (Joan Webster), Roger Livesey (Torquil MacNeil), Pamela Brown (Catriona), Finlay Currie (Ruairidh Mhor), George Carney (Mr. Webster), Nancy Price (Mrs. Crozier), Catherine Lacey (Mrs. Robinson), Jean Cadell (Postmistress), John Laurie (John Campbell), Valentine Dyall (Mr. Robinson), Norman Shelley (Sir Robert Bellinger), Margot Fitzsimons (Bridie), Murdo Morrison (Kenny), Capt. C.W.R. Knight F.Z.S. (Colonel Barnstaple), Walter Hudd (Hunter), Captain Duncan MacKechnie (Captain "Lochinvar"), Ian Sadler (Iain), Donald Strachan (Shepherd), John Rae (Old Shepherd), Duncan Mclntyre (His son), Ivy Milton (Peigi), Antony Eustrel (Hooper), Petula Clark (Cheril), Alec Faversham (Martin), Herbert Lomas (Mr. Campbell), Kitty Kirwan (Mrs. Campbell), Graham Moffatt (R.A.F. Sergeant), Boyd Stevens, Maxwell Kennedy and Jean Houston [members of the Glasgow Orpheus Choir] (Singers in the Ceilidh), Arthur Chesney (Harmonica player), Mr. Ramshaw (Torquil, the Eagle).
Producers: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger.
Production company: The Archers.
Assistant producer: George Busby.
Original distributor: General Film Distributors.
Length: 92 mins.
First shown (London): 16 November 1945.
The main title of the film carries an exclamation mark, which is omitted when the title appears elsewhere in the credits. Erwin Hillier's name is misspelt Hiller on the credits.
This print was donated to the National Film Archive by Rank Film Distributors in 1979.
Michael Powell (1905- ) and Emeric Pressburger (1902-1988) had inaugurated their production company, The Archers, with One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942) and followed it With The Silver Fleet (1943, produced only) and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (also 1943) plus A Canterbury Tale and the medium-length The Volunteer (both 1944). I Know Where I'm Going! was followed by A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948). The team also produced The End of the World (1947) ... [What's that last one then? The Edge of the World (1937) was made by Powell before he met Pressburger]
Erwin Hillier (1911- ), born in Austria, impressed F.W. Murnau with his work as an artist and intended to become a scenic designer in films. However, he was assigned to camerawork and became an assistant on Fritz Lang's M (1931). He came to England and photographed many documentaries, then features from 1942 (The Lady from Lisbon), working first for Powell and Pressburger (1944) on The Silver Fleet (1943) and then on A Canterbury Tale before I Know Where I'm Going!. He declined an offer to team up with Jack Cardiff on A Matter of Life and Death and photographed London Town (1947) in Technicolor. He began a long association with Michael Anderson on The Dam Busters (1954) that extended to The Shoes of the Fisherman (1964), while he also photographed School for Scoundrels (1960), Sammy Going South (1963) and others. He later turned to production and spent many years on a project about Anna Pavlova.
Allan Gray (1905- ) was born in Poland and studied music in Berlin under Arnold Schoenberg. Early film scores included Emil und die Detektive (Emil and the Detectives, 1931) and (in collaboration) F.P.1 antwortet nicht (F.P.1, 1932). He came to England and wrote the music for The Challenge (1938), etc. He composed for the six Powell and Pressburger productions from The Silver Fleet (1943) to A Matter of Life and Death (1946). The African Queen (1951) was among his later work.
Wendy Hiller (1912- ) This Cheshire-born actress made her stage debut in 1930 and became famous with Love on the Dole (1935). She remained predominantly a theatre star but made a film debut in Lancashire Lad (1937) and had otherwise appeared only in Pygmalion (1938, as Eliza Doolittle) and Major Barbara (1941, in title role) before I Know Where I'm Going! (She had been selected for The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp but lost the role through pregnancy.) She made no further films until 1951 (Outcast of the Islands). Her other occasional screen roles include Separate Tables (1958, for which she won an Oscar), A Man for All Seasons (1966) and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).
In his autobiography, A Life in Movies (1986, Heinemann), Michael PoweU describes a conversation with his writer partner: "... Emeric said to me one day, 'I have always wanted to make a film about a girl who wants to get to an island. At the end of her journey she is so near that she can see the people clearly on the island, but a storm stops her from getting there, and by the time the storm has died down she no longer wants to go there, because her life has changed quite suddenly in the way that girls' lives do. "Why does she want to go to the island in the first place?' I asked reasonably, as I thought. Emeric smiled one of his mysterious smiles. 'Let's make the film and find out.'
In the book, Powell notes that James Mason was his first choice for Torquil but the actor baulked at the primitive conditions for location shooting in the Western Isles. Roger Livesey won the part but was refused a release from the play he was in, so was not able to go to Scotland anyway - doubles had to be used, intercut with studio close-ups. Says Powell: "I know that those of you who have seen the film won't believe it, but it's true. I'm not sure, but I think it is one of the cleverest things I ever did in movies."
And, elsewhere in the book: "Only another writer can appreciate the skill with which Emeric plots his love story, by word and look, until both lovers are caught in the net. We played it straight, Wendy, Roger and I masking every emotion and refusing any telltale intonations. It worked. It's the sweetest film we ever made."
In a NFT programme note, Kevin Gough-Yates declared: "I Know Where I'm Going is one of the most eloquent films by Powell and Pressburger. [...] The work has the feeling of an expressionist film. The obsession with marriage and the scenes which are visually dominated by the wedding dress, like the train journey to Scotland and the storm at sea when it is carried over the side of the boat, indicate, in turn, the emotional inclination of the heroine, superbly played by Wendy Hiller. Typically, the 'curse' which dominates the film holds no terror; its impact, like so much of what happens in the film, is caused by the logic of the mind, although it almost seems that nature takes a hand. The fog is too dense for the heroine to sail, her wish for the fog to be blown away is granted, but it is replaced by a gale - perhaps because she wished too hard. The film is littered with indications that she will never reach her destination and marry her rich man: her itinerary is blown away from her hands into the sea and the legend of the whirlpool is only completed in the height of an emotional and literal storm. The weaving of the script is so subtle and beautiful that it is hardly surprising that it remains one of Pressburger's favourite films with Powell."
For Douglas McVay (in an article 'Cinema of Enchantment', Films and Filming, Dec. 1981), the picture is "perhaps the most purely appealing of all Powell's offerings. The Scots-island ambiance is magical, even by his standards of evocation; and the screenplay is a beguiling parable: confident heroine, about to marry a rich man, has her attitudes changed by the hard-pressed but resilient islanders, and marries one of them (even if - with characteristic Powell individualism - he is a laird). The treatment of the material could scarcely be bettered: a lyrical yet comic love story, imbued with affectionate respect for the customs of the region, and for its wonderfully windy, craggy, heathery terrain."
In his book on Powell and Pressburger, Arrows of Desire (1985, Waterstone), Ian Christie wrote: "Pressburger recalls that the script seemed to flow in a burst of inspiration taking less than a week to draft. It included many elements close to each of The Archers' preoccupations - Powell's love of the Western Isles and his technical virtuosity, here required to combine location and studio filming for a spectacular whirlpool sequence; Pressburger's concern with the fate that shapes individual lives and the moral decisions that determine civilisation. [...] Even more effectively than A Canterbury Tale, its predecessor in The Archers' 'crusade against materialism', I Know Where I'm Going succeeds in spinning a web of myth and evocative symbolism around its central search for self-discovery. Scenes like the Campbells' ceili, where Torquil translates a Gaelic song to Joan, 'You're the one for me', and the eerily-lit bedroom in which she first admits her doubts about the marriage to Sir Robert, have a rare cinematic intensity that achieves the 'magic' sought especially by Pressburger. A fable of the age-old opposition between head and heart, the corruption of riches and the collision between commerce and tradition, becomes also a fable of post-war optimism. Joan and Torquil emerge purified from the perils and tests they have overcome like the lovers of a latter-day Magic Flute."
Turn over to read the front of the programme notes.
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