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Old 12th Jul 2006, 11:34   #1
Colyngbourne
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Default Re: Filmimplist Conversations

Amner, top marks for A Canterbury Tale? - I recorded this yesterday, after enjoying Black Narcissus so much at the weekend. Sounds like I did the right thing.
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Old 12th Jul 2006, 11:41   #2
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Ah, yes, A Canterbury Tale. Having spent three years plus in Canters I have a great deal of affection for the place and initially watched it - years and years ago - simply because of that connection. It's a very rare film, even within the Pressburger/Powell canon, but a total gem.

The atmosphere - creepy, mysterious, 'other' (I want to say spiritual but don't feel qualified) - is unique and consistent throughout. Even if the story, which is off-the-wall and outa leftfield without anything else being added to the mix, fades the feeling of something beyond your normal filmic experience will stick with you for days afterwards. Plus, like one of my favourite poems (Houseman's Wenlock Edge), it echoes again and again that we-have-been-here-before feeling that's so hard to capture; but when it's caught, it resonates powerfully:

Quote:
There is more than one way of getting close to your ancestors. Follow the Old Road and as you do, think of them; they climbed Chillingbourne Hill just as you did. They sweated and paused for breath just as you did today. And when you see the bluebells in the spring and the wild thyme, and the broom and the heather, you're seeing what their eyes saw. You ford the same rivers, the same birds singing. And when you lie flat on your back and rest, and watch the clouds sailing as I often do, you're so close to those other people, that you can hear the thrumming of the hoofs of their horses, and the sound of the wheels on the road, and their laughter, and talk, and the music of the instruments they carried. And they turned the bend in the road, where they too saw the towers of Canterbury. I feel I have only to turn my head to see them on the road behind me.
And the scene in the cathedral with the organ playing is magic. Good wartime footage of old Canterbury, too.
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 21:18   #3
John Self
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Default Re: Filmimplist Conversations

I think I gave it five stars too in my 2005 Filmlist, Col.
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Old 14th Jul 2006, 23:25   #4
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It comes across as weird when you're watching it, and then just magical and 'special' in your reflections afterwards. That scene on the hillside with Alison and Culpeper eavesdropping in the long grass is ubelievable.
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Old 15th Jul 2006, 22:18   #5
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Default Re: Filmimplist Conversations

Quote:
Originally Posted by amner
I have a great deal of affection for the place and initially watched it - years and years ago - simply because of that connection. It's a very rare film, even within the Pressburger/Powell canon, but a total gem.
One of the few films guaranteed to make me cry. The scene where Sheila Sim gets the telegram and tears down the ragged curtains in the caravan makes me weepy just thinking about it.

Powell and Pressburger are also responsible for another guaranteed sniffle. I've never got past the opening of A Matter of Life and Death without crying either.
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Old 30th Oct 2007, 13:15   #6
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Default Re: Favourite Threes

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Originally Posted by John Self View Post
Well, my list is more random-representations than definitive favourites, so a number of Powell & Pressburgers could have gone there. But Col Blimp was the one I loved first.
Did we ever give P & P their own thread? If not, we should...

Anyway, two questions. First, I noted with some sadness that Deborah Kerr died a couple of weeks ago. Never less than terrific, in whatever she appeared in, my favourite performance has to be Sister Clodagh in Black Narcissus.

Second, would you say this is a could deal?:



The Tales of Hoffman (1951)
Black Narcisus (1946)
A Matter of Life & Death (1946)
The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
A Canterbury Tale (1944)
I Know Where I'm Going (1945)
49th Parallel (1941)
The Battle of the River Plate (1956)
Ill Met By Moonlight (1957)
They're A Weird Mob (1966)
The Red Shoes (1948 )

...for £29.98 ?

Actually, that's a no-brainer, isn't it?
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Old 30th Oct 2007, 13:18   #7
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Default Powell & Pressburger

There seems to be P & P stuff all over the Palimp, so I'm trying to collate it all in one spot...hence, this may look messy for a while. Bear with me.
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Old 30th Oct 2007, 13:19   #8
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Default Re: Favourite Threes

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Second, would you say this is a could deal?:
...
The Tales of Hoffman (1951)
Black Narcisus (1946)
A Matter of Life & Death (1946)
The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
A Canterbury Tale (1944)
I Know Where I'm Going (1945)
49th Parallel (1941)
The Battle of the River Plate (1956)
Ill Met By Moonlight (1957)
They're A Weird Mob (1966)
The Red Shoes (1948 )

...for £29.98 ?

Actually, that's a no-brainer, isn't it?
Go, get. Fabulous stuff in that lot - don't I recall you bought the P&P boxed set, JS?
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Old 30th Oct 2007, 13:25   #9
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Default Re: Favourite Threes

God that's good. I've never seen Ill Met By Moonlight or They're A Weird Mob... and they've left out Mary Webb's Gone To Earth which I thought was fairly unwatchable, and the Elusive Pimpernel... but just for Black Narcissus, Matter of Life And Death, Col Blimp and the incredibly good Canterbury Tale, that's a bargain.
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Old 30th Oct 2007, 13:41   #10
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Default Re: Powell & Pressburger

JS's film list that - I think - is the first mention of Powell and Pressburger:

From John Self's filmlist (amner not responsible for any idiocy in comments below)

46. Black Narcissus (R) : As good, if not better, second time around - on the big screen too, as part of the Belfast Festival. See 16 below. "Without discipline, we should all behave like children!" "What, don't you like children?"

39. Ill Met By Moonlight (DVD) : One of the few Powell & Pressburger films which has (or at least the title of which has) broken into wider renown, perhaps because it's the only one of their which stars a movie star: a boyish Dirk Bogarde. The film, a late P&P collaboration from 1957, tells the true story of the plot to kidnap a German general on the island of Crete during the Second World War. Lively wit ("What's Greek for chloroform?" "'Chloroform.'"), a brisk running time, beautiful monochrome photography and superb music add to its hugely enjoyable qualities.

38. Gone to Earth (DVD) : Powell & Pressburger back on form - and back in Technicolor - in 1950 with this terrific melodrama. In 1897, gypsy girl Hazel Woods is the centre of male attention but finds herself torn between the nice but ineffectual village parson (who appropriately enough looks exactly like Mr Chinnery from The League of Gentlemen: so that's who Cyril Cusack was) and the local squire of the manor (David Farrar in fine caddish form). Beautifully designed and shot, the film makes great poetry out of the British landscape (which we suspect is Hazel's true love). A remarkable achievement, particularly for a compromise production with David O. Selznick, who butchered it for release. Also features superb supporting roles including Dame Sybil Thorndike as the manipulative mother-in-law.

37. The Small Back Room (DVD) : Powell & Pressburger's 1949 small-scale wartime drama was never going to match up to the colourful fantasies of A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947) or The Red Shoes (1948 ). The story of an alcoholic government scientist, it inevitably disappoints, but has many things going for it, including the reuniting of David Farrar and the smouldering Kathleen Byron from Black Narcissus, and an insanely tense 15-minute bomb disposal scene at the end. The visual representations of Farrar's alcoholism however - giant whisky bottle crushes him against wall, etc. - strike a note more comic than dramatic.

35. A Canterbury Tale (DVD) : Powell & Pressburger's 1944 film initially seems slight and unambitious compared with the rest of their 1940s output - masterpieces all, from Colonel Blimp to The Red Shoes - and sets itself up as a pleasant comedy about village life in wartime England, with a full complement of Land Girls, GIs and mysterious men daubing girls' heads with glue under cover of darkness (no really). Then the last half hour, in the scenes in and around the cathedral, take it to another level, and speak elegiacally - almost spiritually - of the ways of life lost through war, as well as the opportunities won.

16. Black Narcissus (DVD) : Powell & Pressburger's insanely atmospheric 1947 fable about nuns who set up a convent high in the Himalayas, and find themselves drawn away from the spiritual and toward other things... "There are only two ways to live in this place. Either ignore it, or give yourself up to it." Never has the act of putting on a swipe of lipstick made for such a provocatively carnal sight.

14. The Red Shoes (DVD) : the last of my Easter Powell & Pressburger trilogy, their 1948 masterpiece which succeeds in making ballet not look pointless. "A dancer who relies on the uncertain comforts of human love will never be a great dancer. Never!" For a review as over-the-top as the film, try this: "This is the best film of all time, because it is a great love story, a great moral story, because of Shearer's incandescence and because no other film has dared to better another art form at its own game and won as convincingly."

13. A Matter of Life and Death (DVD) : another Powell/Pressburger imaginative masterpiece (1946), originally commissioned by the Ministry of Information as a propaganda film to foster Anglo-American relations, but P&P just couldn't keep the art out. So we get a fantasy where a British airman has to account for his life to a heavenly tribunal. Nice touch: the earth is shot in colour, heaven in B&W.

11. I Know Where I'm Going! (DVD) Powell & Pressburger's 1945 Scottish romance-with-a-twist (and a whirlpool): barnstorming performances (particularly from Roger Livesey, who excelled in Colonel Blimp: why isn't he better remembered?), breathtaking B&W photography of the Western Isles, and a heartstopping prototype Perfect Storm, all in 86 minutes. Masterful.

John Self's comments end...
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