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]

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A view from Australia
by Mark Matheson

I've hesitated to respond about what must the worst of Michael and Eneric's films: "They're a Weird Mob" of 1966.

In my first year of teenagedom, I did get a thrill seeing the crew from a distance. It was a huddle of black vans, bright lights and generators recording a short scene outside the office building of the hero's father-in-law.

The movie did massive business here on its initial local release; it was big and bright. Most people get a thrill seeing their home town shown up on the big screen.

Though when I got home, I was a little confused reading the glossy souvenir program that the director's distant past included those odd war films and strange romances we knew from our black-&-white TV. My father was confused why the actress playing the role of the hero's wife was such a limp damp Colleen rather than a healthy, statuesque Aussie girl (he had been told that the actor playing the hero had partnered Lollobrigida).
[It's true. Walter Chiari & La Lollo were in the Italian Comedy Io, io, io... e gli altri (1965) {Me, Me, Me... and the Others}.]

Now of course, Powell and Pressburger are revered in Australia's art-house cinemas and the reconstructed prints are shown at our mainstream cinemas.

Though the second volume of Powell's memoirs aren't available here. And unlike "Age of Consent", "Weird Mob" has not, to my knowledge, been shown on television in the last two decades and there have been only two screenings at the retrospectives.

We Multicultural Australians now consider this film to be simple-minded and banal. And bogus, after all the scriptwriter and the original author both used pseudonyms. And I understand Michael Powell was intending the film to be "Capra-esque".

Ultimately the film seems all rather sad.

The issues of immigration and assimilation are not very funny. It is incomprehensible the hero could forsake a rich Italian culture for the mindless hedonistic, hyper-materialistic lifestyle presented. (The scenes at Nino's "dream-house" were filmed in a new 1960's Sydney suburb which destroyed an area of bushland containing the fragile and increasingly-rare wildflower called Waratah.)

And I do remember the pictures of Michael at the time looking depressingly "groovy" and "with-it" wearing Paisley shirts and sideburns, seemingly half-ashamed of his "baroque, arty" past. I wonder what Michael would have rather been making in 1966?

Mark Matheson

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