The Masters  
The Powell &Pressburger Images

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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Never Turn Your Back On A Friend
Episode of TV Series "Espionage (1964)" that Michael Powell directed

George Voskovek Professor Kuhn   Michael Powell Director   John Victor Smith Editor
Donald Madden Anaconda   Herbert Brodkin Ltd Production company   Wilfred Shingleton Production designer
Mark Eden Wicket   Herbert Hirschman Executive producer   Tony Woollard Art director
Julian Glover Tovarich   George Justin Producer   Malcolm Arnold Music & conductor
Pamela Brown Miss Jensen   John Pellatt Associate producer   David Bowen Sound recorder
Michael Mellinger German Officer   Tom Sachs Production manager   Dennis Rogers Sound editor
Maja Bamberger Marta   Bruce Sherman Assistant director   Kim Ziegler Costumes
      Mel Davenport Screenplay   Alex Garfath Make-up
      Ken Hodges Photography   Maurice Binder Titles
      Herbert Smith Camera Operator   Doreen Soan Continuity


Mark Fuller reports on the notes from an NFT screening:

Having dug out the notes they're a bit disappointing, but here goes; Cast; as per Arrows of Desire (Reprint),+ Michael Mellinger (German Officer), Maja Bamberger (Marta) ; Crew; as per,+ Continuity (Doreen Soan); ITC, transmitted 4th Jan 1964, 48 mins.

The notes themselves are a distillation of Million Dollar Movie, pp 458-9, nothing original; it was shown at the NFT with episodes from O.S.S. from 1957 & Spycatcher from 1959, as part of a season called "In from the Cold: TV Espionage" in February '99.

Wishing now that I had taken notes at the time, my memories of it are as follows; the plot is that in the final days of the Second World War, three agents - code-named Anaconda (U.S), Tovarich (USSR) and Wicket (G.B) have been teamed together to blow-up a Heavy Water Plant in Norway, which they succeed in doing; having done so, they shelter in the Schoolhouse run by Miss Jensen, a local resistance worker, until their plane rendezvous at dawn. However, as an insurance measure, one of them, (The Russian??????) has brought with him the Chief Scientist at the plant, the one,the only one in the schoolroom at least, who knows what the heavy water is for, the potential of his, in fear for his own life, he tells the agents something of the purpose of the research at the plant, starts playing the agents off each other as they realise the prize they hold between them; the situation deteriorates from an alliance, albeit uneasy, to one of distrust, as each representative of the superpowers makes a case for the scientist to go to their own countries; arguments on communism, Empire and American power ensues; someone posits that the world would be better if no-one knew these nuclear secrets, and that the scientist should be shot. Come the dawn, the plane lands, a shootout occurs, all, including I think the scientist and possibly one of the civilians, are killed. From the standpoint of 1963/4, the history of the Cold War told in microcosm, with apocalyptic ending included for good measure.

All in all, it's a clever piece of writing, with a fine cast, good sets and costumes, and, surprise, surprise, good direction. In terms of production values, it's very good for British 60's TV, on a par with, say, the Quatermass series from the same era, and is in no way a come-down from MP's film work. Rather, it's a shame he didn't pursue (or wasn't pursued by) TV work rather than tilt at those windmills of unmade projects that wasted those years before he went to Australia. Imagine MP directing, for instance, Prisoner, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), even Dr Who; what could his imagination and visual power have brought to 60's and 70's TV, given the chance.........

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