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.

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A great 8 days in Canterbury
By: Steve Crook

I needed a holiday, a complete break from work, and this was it. 8 days in Canterbury, exploring Canterbury and the surrounding area by day and watching some great films every evening.

I drove down to Canterbury on the evening of Friday 8th October & got myself signed in at the Pilgrims Hotel. I've stayed there before and it's very nice. Nothing too fancy, but I would only be there to rest up between excursions. The staff are very friendly and helpful, it's quite reasonably priced and it's in the centre of Canterbury, just opposite the Marlowe Theatre (which, as the old Friars Cinema, was where A Canterbury Tale had its world premiere in 1944).

Saturday 9th October:
Up with the lark - or a lark that gets up quite late, I was on holiday after all. Breakfast at the Pilgrims, then a bit of exploring around Canterbury. I hadn't been into Canterbury itself for about 4 years having missed the 2002 location walk due to an inconveniently bursting appendix.

A walk around the Cathedral to wonder once more at:

  1. the skill and dedication of the people who built it and
  2. the cheek of The Archers who, when told they couldn't film in there, casually decided to rebuild the Cathedral (well, certain parts of it) in the studio.

Back to the hotel for a wash & brush up and to put on the (reasonably) smart togs then down to the Sidney Cooper Gallery at the lower end of the High Street (St Peter's Street) for the opening of the Exhibition A Canterbury Tale: Michael Powell and the Neo-Romantic Landscape.

Greeted there by Nick Burton, head of the Department of Media at Canterbury Christ Church University College, also by Eddie McMillan, now a lecturer in Film and Video Production at CCCUC. I've met them both before at various events. They introduce me to a few people including Bryan Hawkins who had put the exhibition together. I met Jim Pople (2nd assistant editor on ACT) again and had an interesting talk with Michael Caldwell from BFI Collections.

The exhibition is amazing and is well worth a visit if you're in the area. The theme is to locate Powell and his fellow Archers and the films they made in the Neo-Romantic landscape (artistic, physical & political) of the time. The exhibition will run at the Sidney Cooper Gallery until December 11th and they then hope to take it to some other galleries around the country. See the more detailed tour of the exhibition.

Official opening - Nick & Bryan

People at the opening
Note the old camera centerpiece

Then at about 5pm we head up to the University of Kent at Canterbury campus to the Gulbenkian Theatre and Cinema 3 for the first of the Powell films being screened. There I meet Paul Tritton, Nigel Cross who has organised the film festival (Nigel has now moved to the BFI) and a few of the members of the PaPAS group like Michael & Geoff both of whom I'd met at other events. Also there were a few of the "boys" from the film and their families, Len Smith, Jimmy Tamsitt's widow, David Todd, John Clark.

The first film being shown was of course A Canterbury Tale and it was to be introduced by Sheila Sim - and this time she'd brought the old man along!

Nick, Sheila, Jack, Dickie & Lucy
That's their grand-daughter, Lucy, on the right. She'd never seen ACT before so it was a good chance to see her grandmother Sheila at her most glamorous. Lucy Holland is a student at King's School Canterbury - Michael Powell's old school. Jack Cardiff was there as well (he lives fairly close to Canterbury) for the main opening and he came back on Sunday to introduce Black Narcissus.
Tragically, Lucy was killed in the tsunami that hit Thailand on 26th December 2004

After a few drinks and lots of chat, during which I had a word with Lord Dickie, telling him about what we do. He said that "Long after my films and those of others like David Lean are long forgotten, the films of Powell & Pressburger will still be fresh and will still be intrigueing people" and he kindly added his signature to my AMOLAD book. When he saw Kathleen Byron had signed it as well he told me she is now in Denville Hall and is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease :(

Into Cinema 3, we were to get very used to that place during the week and they would get used to us. The place was just about full, over 300 people, I sat in the reserved section with Win Tamsitt, Len Smith and the others. Sheila gave a very nice introduction to the film and then returned to her seat just in front of us and a nice hug and a kiss from Dickie.

A lovely print of the film and it's a joy to watch it with the people who helped to make it. I heard a few muttered comments of the form "There's grandma's house" or "Is that Auntie Doris?" which for me adds greatly to the charm of seeing it in that sort of situation.

Afterwards we had a short break and a chance to talk about the film. Some people had to leave then to get home, others chose not to stay for the second film of the evening, Peeping Tom. Maybe a bit of an odd choice to show alongside A Canterbury Tale. There weren't anywhere near as many people in there for PT, only about 100. But that's still pretty good for a 44 year old film. I did notice that whereas A Canterbury Tale got a huge round of applause at the end there was no applause after Peeping Tom.

I gave Michael a lift back into Canterbury where we sank a jar before he headed off home. A good start to the week.

The other days weren't as incident filled as this first day but I'll put each one on a separate page.

Sat 9 Sun 10 Mon 11 Tue 12 Wed 13 Thu 14 Fri 15 Sat 16

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