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]

  Steve's Logo

Submitted by Mark Fuller & Kevin Brownlow

'Red Shoes' Moira criticises own film
From The Daily Express, 17th January, 1949

Ballet-star Moira Shearer had this to say yesterday of the ballet-film The Red Shoes, in which she starred:-

Making it was a mistake; and pictures on the hoardings made me look like Jane Russell in black tights.

Twenty-two-year-old Miss Shearer was lecturing 400 students and balletomanes at the Royal Academy of Dancing Production Club in Holland Park, West London.

It was an informal lecture, which she read seated, in a black dress with tight bodice and full skirt. Her red hair was dressed in her customary page-boy style.

She criticised the story of the film - "only the surface of the ballet was scratched" - and the filming.

"There was no continuity or organisation on the set," she said. "Often the script was completely altered on the set. No one seemed to mind.

"The chopped-up sequences allowing perhaps only half a minute's dancing at a time made it very difficult and a very miserable experience.

"After six months of the Red Shoes method of filming, a dancer would not have any technique left. It took me several months after the film to get back to feeling right again."

There were too "exasperating difficulties." One was combating fatigue and limpness after long hours in the heat of the ar-lamps. Another was having to wear make-up for as long as 14 hours a day.

Then Miss Shearer, who lives with her parents in a Kensington flat, asked a question of her audience.

"Perhaps," she said, "you are wondering why I made the film?"

While the audience wondered, Miss Shearer gave her own answer:-

"Perhaps," she said, "I didn't realise there would be so much to fight against."

But Miss Shearer sees hope - IF "a new technique more suitable to the ballet could be adopted, then films of the classical ballets should prove successful." She added:-

"An imaginative director could make a film of 'The Sleeping Beauty' perfectly. I would like to see the old classical ballets filmed in their entirety."

FOOTNOTE last night from Mr. Emeric Pressburger, one of the directors of The Red Shoes film: "I will make no comment. Miss Shearer has the right to criticise like everyone else. I don't know why she is doing it. But she must have a reason."


Comments from Steve:

Moira is right to complain about some things. Working under those arc lights must have been very difficult. With all the high lighting levels necessary for Technicolor they needed to add a spotlight to pick her out on stage. To do this they used a "Brute", a 300 amp arc light that could place 1,200 footcandles on a subject some 100 feet away. But we hear from crew members that she was always very pleasant and friendly on set.

But some of her other complaints do seem a bit strange

And of course, if she hated filming, and Powell, so much, why did she go back for The Tales of Hoffmann and then again for Peeping Tom?


See what one ballet critic said when they were given access while the film was being made.
See also What the Ballet Critics said and Moira's 1994 interview.

Back to index