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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Ill Met by Moonlight (1957)
By Henry Coombs
Straight WWII adventure - in some respects
24th January 2000
Think of `The Guns of Navarone', but with these differences:
(1) The band of adventurers genuinely like each other.
(2) Their mission is not to blow anything up. Rather, they plan to kidnap a German general and take him to Cairo. It's a publicity stunt. But it soon ceases to be a MERE publicity stunt: demonstrating German vulnerability may be as important as creating it.
(3) We get a good look at Crete - and NOT just because of spectacular scenic photography. We really feel at home on Cretan soil. Michael Powell, who had a talent for finding out-of-the-way composers (he also introduced Ralph Vaughan Williams and Brian Easdale to the cinema) has this time found Mikis Theodorakis, whose score is strongly flavoured but friendly to the ear.
With all this, `Ill Met by Moonlight' is an unusual venture by Powell and Pressburger, in that it isn't unusual: it's another World War II mission story, and there have been dozens. It IS more civilised than most. It tells its simple story neatly and cleanly; it's sweet, unpretentious, and disappointing only in that, since it was Powell and Pressburger's last official collaboration, it would have been nice to go out with a bigger bang.
The title is a line from `A Midsummer Night's Dream'. Its relevance is not obvious, at any rate not to me. Am I missing something?