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.

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Fascinating trivia (and any goofs) connected with the film

- The 15 min (approx) Ballet of the Red Shoes used a corps de ballet of 53 dancers.

- The Red Shoes (1948) didn't have a big UK premiere. It was first shown at the Odeon, Haymarket at midnight for an invited audience. Then it was shown there for the next 10 days before being put on general release, to try to get back some of the money it had cost Rank. Because of this quick general release there was very little publicity and it didn't do at all well on it's first release. But subsequent showings (in the same year) proved more popular as word of mouth had spread.
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- The Red Shoes wasn't at all understood by the distributors at first. It was only after an independent US distributor showed it for an unbroken 110 week run in an off Broadway theater (The Bijou) that Universal realised that it was a worthwhile film after all. Universal took over the US distribution in 1951.

- When people complained to Michael Powell about the gory ending, he pointed out that in the original Hans Christian Andersen story the girl had her feet hacked off with a woodsman's axe to stop her dancing.

- Designer Hein Heckroth once asked some children which part they liked best in the original Hans Christian Andersen story.
"When they cut off her feet" they all replied.
"But we couldn't do that in the film," said Hein, "Moira would not like it".

- The script for The Red Shoes was originally written by Emeric Pressburger in 1937 (for £2,000) for Alexander Korda who planned to use it as a vehicle for his (intended) wife Merle Oberon. It was planned that the dancing scenes be doubled by a professional dancer. Powell and Pressburger bought back the rights from Korda for £12,000 in 1947.

- An entrant in Variety's "Golden Fifty" list of the top money makers of all time.

- The exterior of The Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate was shown in the rain because Michael Powell had often gone there to see plays or the ballet and he reminisced "it always seemed to be raining when one queued up for Madame Rambert's productions".

- There is an oft told myth that The Red Shoes wasn't very well appreciated in the UK and it wasn't backed by Rank with a full release or much promotion. According to Allen Eyles book on Gaumont British Cinemas, TRS had a full UK circuit release on the Rank owned Gaumont British circuit in 1948 (around 350 cinemas......), and was also shown widely in independent cinemas nationwide. Indeed, Robert Murphy lists TRS as one of the UK top ten box office attractions of 1948.

- There is another myth that TRS was the film that destroyed the Rank empire because it was so expensive and didn't make any money. If anything Gabby Pascal's Caesar and Cleopatra (1945) takes that honour with it's budget of £1,278,000 ($6,000,00) compared to the comparatively meagre budget of £551,927 for The Red Shoes. But really it was their bad investments trying to set up a US distribution chain and the over-extention into production here just after the war that got them into so much financial trouble.

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