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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.

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Submitted by Steve Crook

A Canterbury Tale Walk
By: Steve Crook

I'm tired, but it's a "good tired"

Just back from Fordwich where we held our annual ACT location walk for 2004. About 60 people including Michael Eyers & Neil Murray (nice to see you chaps).

We started off in the church (where Bob goes to the Sunday service with the Hortons) for introductions. Paul explained what the plan was for day (we're never too rigid, it's like lightly organised chaos). Paul & I had our picture taken by the photographer from the local paper.

Then we broke for lunch at the two pubs in Fordwich and met back at the Town Hall at 2pm.

Somehow we managed to fit everyone into that small Town Hall where we showed how what was seen in the film was really all in the studio. Once you're inside (even when there aren't that many people there) it's obvious you couldn't get a camera (on a movable rig) and the lights in there. Everyone paid their 1 admission (the Town Hall hasn't done so well on a single day for ages) and had a good look around. While we were there we called for a few volunteers to act out a couple of playlets - the scenes where Bob first meets Colpeper and then the scene where Alison meets him.

One nice lady admitted to having done some amateur dramatics so she got the job of playing Alison. Paul then volunteered Ian Christie to play Bob & Nick Burton to play Colpeper. Ian had come along out of general interest, to see what we all get up to, and to record some pieces for the Radio 4 programme on Micky that they'll be doing next year. Nick Burton (head of film & TV at Canterbury Christ Church College) was also there to remind everyone about the film festival in October and the one day seminar he's organising. Paul & I also passed a few questions their way when people asked some that we couldn't immediately answer.

From the Town Hall, via the back lanes, to the top of the High Street. Trying to make sure that we didn't block the traffic (the High Street is narrow enough anyway) and that nobody got run over. Len Smith (General Leslie in the film) had joined us by this time and he was able to help us point out why that High Street is the "Beverly Hills" of Fordwich. It's where all the children in the film lived

We worked our way back down the High Street to the George and Dragon. That was where Micky stayed while they made the film. It was also part of the "Hand of Glory" where Bob stayed. The "Hand of Glory" in the film is a very strange place. Much of the interior (not the bar with the grille but the stairs and upstairs corridors) is very much like the Red Lion at Wingham. When Bob looks out of one window and waves to the butcher, that's the real butcher at his shop next to the Red Lion in Wingham. But when Bob talks to Terry and looks out of the other window, he's looking out onto Fordwich. Wingham is about 6 miles from Fordwich!

The same building you see behind Terry when he's talking to Bob was later used as the Colpeper Institute where they held the lecture. Or rather the exteriors as the troops go into the lecture was filmed there. All the interiors in the film (and some of the exteriors) were really filmed at Denham.

So we then followed the footsteps of Bob, Peter & Alison as they went around the corner, back to the Town Hall where Bob explained his great exposé. Back round at the Town Hall we got a few more volunteers to act that out complete with Michael Eyers playing a very convincing village idiot (well done).

And that was about it. We answered a lot more questions (people were asking various things all the way round of course) and chatted in general for a while. Then we all said our goodbyes (until October) and headed off homewards.

I do like these things. There's such a variety of people there, each with their own reason for liking the film. The most popular questions this time seemed to be "When will Paul do another edition of the book?". That was easily the most frequently asked question. I think he can be persuaded to do an updated version on CD-ROM. But now that he's officially retired he claims he's busier than ever.

A lot of people asked about Esmond Knight as well. I related the tale of how he got blinded a few times and not everyone realised he played the three roles in the film.

The one we couldn't answer was ...
John Slater & Graham Moffatt were both well known actors. Why didn't they do more? John Slater doesn't say a word as he fixes the projector in the lecture. Graham Moffatt sleeps through it! Although they are both there for the village idiot scene they don't say much, just add to the chorus. Was there anything cut out that we're missing?


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