POLL: Best Powell and Pressburger Film.

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All the films they worked together on. Well i think it's comprehensive anyway.

Poll Results

OptionVotes
Canterbury Tale, A (1944) 4
Matter of Life and Death, A (1946) 3
'I Know Where I'm Going!' (1945) 2
Black Narcissus (1947) 1
Red Shoes, The (1948) 1
Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, The (1943) 1
Tales of Hoffmann, The (1951) 1
Silver Fleet, The (1943) 0
Small Back Room, The (1949) 0
Spy in Black, The (1939) 0
...aka U-Boat 29 (1939) 0
They're a Weird Mob (1966) 0
Volunteer, The (1943) 0
One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942) 0
Oh... Rosalinda!! (1955) 0
Boy Who Turned Yellow, The 0
Battle of the River Plate, The (1956) 0
Contraband (1940) 0
Elusive Pimpernel, The (1950) 0
End of the River, The (1947) 0
Gone to Earth (1950) 0
Ill Met by Moonlight (1957) 0
49th Parallel (1941) 0
Wild Heart, The (1952)0


Frogman Henry, Thursday, 14 June 2007 09:52 (fifteen years ago) link

This is toooooo hard. So I'm using my standard poll "pick one without thinking too hard" technique and going with Canterbury Tale, although picking a B&W P&P feels slightly wrong. But Canterbury Tale is incredibly evocative of a place that mightn't ever have really existed. It's also, maybe, the strangest of all their films, and I think that sense that there are other things going on that aren't transparent keeps me returning to it. It's my default "favourite". But I wouldn't want to claim it was better than Colonel Blimp, Black Narcissus or The Red Shoes.

Noodle Vague, Thursday, 14 June 2007 10:06 (fifteen years ago) link

Also, as I've said before, there are some ideas in CT that are alarmingly "Blood and Soil" sounding. But I kinda like the idea of a propaganda film that barely even mentions the Enemy.

Noodle Vague, Thursday, 14 June 2007 10:08 (fifteen years ago) link

This is toooooo hard

You said it, brother

Tom D., Thursday, 14 June 2007 10:09 (fifteen years ago) link

Aghh. Colonel Blimp, I think, but I still need to see A Canterbury Tale and Black Narcissus. I think I wrote on the happiness-in-movies thread about those 10 minutes or so in Colonel Blimp after the duel is over and Theo and Clive have become friends, and everything is working in the way that Clive feels it should. It makes his gradual slide into irrelevance all the more heartbreaking.

But man, it's hard to vote against a lot of these.

clotpoll, Thursday, 14 June 2007 10:50 (fifteen years ago) link

Canterbury Tale for too many personal reasons and the way it internalises the concept of "the enemy." The total ambiguity of the Eric Portman character is crucial.

Naturally Kubrick must have watched it before making 2001.

Marcello Carlin, Thursday, 14 June 2007 10:56 (fifteen years ago) link

I'd speculate that Patrick McGoohan was a fan too.

Noodle Vague, Thursday, 14 June 2007 10:58 (fifteen years ago) link

haven't seen them all, but it's blimp for me. so warm, so enjoyable.
and deborah kerr.

Frogman Henry, Thursday, 14 June 2007 10:59 (fifteen years ago) link

Yes - Portman's Number 2 in the "Free For All" episode of The Prisoner was more or less based on his glue-squirting squire character.

Marcello Carlin, Thursday, 14 June 2007 11:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Powell & Pressburger are pretty badly served on DVD at the moment. I've been waiting for nice editions for a long time.

Noodle Vague, Thursday, 14 June 2007 11:06 (fifteen years ago) link

The Criterion editions are great!

A Matter of Life and Death for me.

Alfred, Lord Sotosyn, Thursday, 14 June 2007 12:42 (fifteen years ago) link

A Canterbury Tale for me too, though there are lots I haven't seen.

It always seems to get the most attention here, and I wonder whether this is indicative of a shift towards it more generally, or just says something about ILE.

Alba, Thursday, 14 June 2007 13:04 (fifteen years ago) link

I'll second A Matter of Life and Death

treefell, Thursday, 14 June 2007 13:10 (fifteen years ago) link

I haven't seen three ones yet that I want to see (Colonel Blimp, A Matter of Life and Death, and Canterbury Tale), but as it stands it would be between 3 listed: Black Narcissus, Red Shoes, or Tales of Hoffmann.

The former two are better films overall, but I'm voting Hoffmann, because it's a personal fave (and probably won't win anyway). The "Barcarolle" scenes (the breathtaking Ludmilla Tcherina dueting with her reflection in the gondola) and the rest of the second segment of the film are simply stunning.

Joe, Thursday, 14 June 2007 13:23 (fifteen years ago) link

I've seen 9 of these and must go with 'I Know Where I'm Going!' Deceptively simple romanticism.

Dr Morbius, Thursday, 14 June 2007 13:39 (fifteen years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll is closing tomorrow.

ILX System, Sunday, 17 June 2007 23:01 (fifteen years ago) link

Automatic thread bump. This poll's results are now in.

ILX System, Monday, 18 June 2007 23:01 (fifteen years ago) link

well this was popular.

Frogman Henry, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 13:07 (fifteen years ago) link

it shows what a recent DVD re;ease will do for a weird problem film like Canterbury Tale.

Dr Morbius, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 13:12 (fifteen years ago) link

How did I miss this poll? Anyway, 'I know ehere I'm going' for me. This is one of the bargains of the year.

Billy Dods, Tuesday, 19 June 2007 13:24 (fifteen years ago) link

three years pass...

I finally saw "I Know Where I'm Going" yesterday. Strange film, really.

puff pastry hangman (admrl), Monday, 3 January 2011 01:31 (eleven years ago) link

fantastically, blissfully

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Monday, 3 January 2011 01:38 (eleven years ago) link

Yes, but I'm glad the whole course of gender relations has come on a bit since 1945.

puff pastry hangman (admrl), Monday, 3 January 2011 01:39 (eleven years ago) link

I would like to spend some time on a remote Scottish island, I will say.

puff pastry hangman (admrl), Monday, 3 January 2011 01:39 (eleven years ago) link

four months pass...

Watched A Canterbury Tale tonight. I was never bored, but it lacked energy. I found the rural drolleries more funny and natural in I Know Where I'm Going. Part of my problem lies with the John Sweet performance, which is intentionally broad; it's like Eddie Bracken wandered out of Hail the Conquering Hero.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 26 May 2011 02:46 (eleven years ago) link

four months pass...

i watched my first powell and pressburger film last night, the red shoes and it caught me off-guard. the sets and the dancing, obviously, and maybe some of the performances. also, the movement of the film. the weird high drama contrasted with workaday group dynamics. it seemed not very conventional but maybe it was just following conventions i'm unfamiliar with (lol great britain?).

runaway (Matt P), Saturday, 8 October 2011 19:42 (ten years ago) link

they were pretty unique

Rory's new misogynist car (Gukbe), Saturday, 8 October 2011 19:48 (ten years ago) link

we should re-do this poll btw

Rory's new misogynist car (Gukbe), Saturday, 8 October 2011 19:48 (ten years ago) link

yeah they were and yeah we shd

Dios mio! This kid is FUN to hit! (Noodle Vague), Saturday, 8 October 2011 21:26 (ten years ago) link

Funny, just saw my first tonight! Colonel Blimp. Loved it, although wow it's long. (That said, I can't imagine the shorter version that apparently loses the flashback element...)

Background Zombie (CharlieNo4), Sunday, 9 October 2011 00:37 (ten years ago) link

Watching and reading the DVD extras on A Canterbury Tale made me appreciate John Sweet a bit more - he comes across as an incredibly nice person, who was fully aware that he wasn't up to the acting standards of everyone else (he was a GI who had acted in a few plays). There's an interview with him, sitting in the cafe they filmed in Canterbury, where he talks about eventually giving up on acting and going back to teaching, saying that he feels like if nothing else, his students came out of his classes liking themselves a little more. Apparently he gave all his money from the movie to the NAACP.

JoeStork, Sunday, 9 October 2011 01:40 (ten years ago) link

He's one swell fella.

Work Hard, Flunky! (R Baez), Sunday, 9 October 2011 02:09 (ten years ago) link

col. blimp imo

The sham nation of Israel should be destroyed. (Princess TamTam), Sunday, 9 October 2011 02:15 (ten years ago) link

Watching and reading the DVD extras on A Canterbury Tale made me appreciate John Sweet a bit more - he comes across as an incredibly nice person, who was fully aware that he wasn't up to the acting standards of everyone else (he was a GI who had acted in a few plays). There's an interview with him, sitting in the cafe they filmed in Canterbury, where he talks about eventually giving up on acting and going back to teaching, saying that he feels like if nothing else, his students came out of his classes liking themselves a little more. Apparently he gave all his money from the movie to the NAACP.

― JoeStork, Saturday, October 8, 2011 8:40 PM (36 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

yeah that guy is awesome. my favorite P&P film btw.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Sunday, 9 October 2011 02:17 (ten years ago) link

and i think he's fine in the film. his sort of earnest bumpkin affect works for the film.

flesh, the devil, and a wolf (wolf) (amateurist), Sunday, 9 October 2011 02:17 (ten years ago) link

it's my favorite too. a weird, wondrous sort of film.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Sunday, 9 October 2011 02:32 (ten years ago) link

seven years pass...

Thanks to Morbius for mentioning this favorably a few times, it's a gem. There's a fair amount to take in with the busy opening, train and party sequences and all the landscapes. A shame there's only old dvd copies (mine seems to have some cheese burned into the box).

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 9 November 2018 23:47 (three years ago) link

five months pass...

(Powell solo) Age Of Consent - Nice film. James Mason looking pretty great at 60, Helen Mirren in an early role (in her interview she seemed to say this was her first screen role but she has a few earlier credits). Powell was annoyed that critics didn't praise the dog acting, but the dog secretly sliding back into its collar was one of my favorite bits; he thought the paintings were a disappointment but I quite liked them. Worth picking up, the Indicator bluray is all region.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 22 April 2019 14:23 (three years ago) link

eleven months pass...

Just watched Edge Of The World, very good. But where to go (with or without Pressburger) next? I've also seen Age Of Consent, Peeping Tom, A Canterbury Tale, A Matter of Life and Death, I Know Where I'm Going, Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, Tales of Hoffmann.

Among the most readily available are Oh Rosalinda, Phantom Light, Thief Of Bagdad, Small Black Room, The Spy In Black, Gone To Earth, Ill Met By Moonlight and 49th Parallel.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 30 March 2020 21:50 (two years ago) link

Thief Of Bagdad, Small Back Room, and 49th Parallel all essential.

brooklyn suicide cult (Dr Morbius), Monday, 30 March 2020 21:54 (two years ago) link

Thankyou.

Edge Of The World BFI bluray contains Powell's "home videos" of Foula (the island they filmed on), with commentary; a documentary he made about Foula decades later; and a new documentary about St Kilda (the real island the story was based upon), mostly made from an old film from the 20s. The rock climbing the farmers did is incredible.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Monday, 30 March 2020 22:13 (two years ago) link

Gone to Earth has some beautiful technicolor countryside and is entertaining in a sort of mystifying way, plus it's got a nice pagan through line.

avellano medio inglés (f. hazel), Monday, 30 March 2020 23:23 (two years ago) link

I'll probably get them all eventually but less keen on some of the war films and not sure about Luna De Miel/Honeymoon (which is on bluray)

Robert Adam Gilmour, Tuesday, 31 March 2020 00:25 (two years ago) link

two months pass...

"A Canterbury Tale" is on Talking Pictures at the moment. Hadn't noticed before Sheila Sim's resemblance to the young Margaret Thatcher!

Is Lou Reed a Good Singer? (Tom D.), Sunday, 31 May 2020 10:20 (two years ago) link

just need 5 minutes to decide whether that's an FP or not

Mambo Number 5 was a number one jam (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 31 May 2020 10:21 (two years ago) link

LOL, a very English looking young woman.

Is Lou Reed a Good Singer? (Tom D.), Sunday, 31 May 2020 10:24 (two years ago) link

she doesn't have the evil behind her eyes that was in Thatcher from birth

Mambo Number 5 was a number one jam (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 31 May 2020 10:25 (two years ago) link

ok i found a publicity still from The Guinea Pig where she looks a bit Thatchery, guess i'll let this one slide

Mambo Number 5 was a number one jam (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 31 May 2020 10:27 (two years ago) link

Such a strange film, although some of the gender politics look a bit iffy nowadays tbh

some infected evening (Matt #2), Sunday, 31 May 2020 10:47 (two years ago) link

It would probably be bad if an 80-year-old film didn't seem at least a little iffy w/r/t gender, but I also think ACT is remarkably prescient (or maybe just perceptive) about it. A repressed, lonely man whose sense of self is built on his obscure, boyish intellectual passion lashes out against the incursion of women into his formerly monastic space, attempting to gate-keep his hobby through disturbing, misogynistic acts of symbolic sexual violence.

All of that is handled with surprising grace of course; Peeping Tom is a ways off yet. I suppose one could complain that P&P are too sympathetic to Colpeper, or you might think they write his "confession" as a true and fair accounting of the events. But as Powell points out in his autobio, Colpeper throws "sticky stuff" at the women (iirc he even makes fun of the Intro to Freud-level subtlety of the symbolism)--the glue-throwing is clearly about his own frustrated desires and perceived exclusion from the world of sex and romance, an exclusion he tried but failed to turn into a noble cause.

dip to dup (rob), Sunday, 31 May 2020 13:13 (two years ago) link

Alison's treatment and "forgiveness" of him is entirely her own too. She's essentially the protagonist of the movie and she's far from a one-dimensional product of patriarchy

hip posts without flaggadocio (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 31 May 2020 13:19 (two years ago) link

I really like it. In a way it's one of the strangest films I've ever seen.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 31 May 2020 17:25 (two years ago) link

six months pass...

Enjoyed 49th Parallel. That french guy wasn't bathing in dough, was he? Are all war films by Powell so nice?

There's an american bluray of The Wild Heart (Gone To Earth) and I'm just going to have faith the UK will get one soon enough.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Sunday, 27 December 2020 19:32 (one year ago) link

Can't believe Colonel Blimp only got one vote in this poll.

Lily Dale, Sunday, 27 December 2020 19:43 (one year ago) link

Canterbury Tale, Black Narcissus and Red Shoes all better than Blimp imo, A Matter of Life and Death a shade over-valued tho

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 27 December 2020 19:46 (one year ago) link

I've seen six of these, I would have picked Black Narcissus. The earlier films are too starchy and the later films overcooked.

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 27 December 2020 19:49 (one year ago) link

I still think the run from Col. Blimp to Small Back Room is the best extended run of films by one creator or creative team ever made.

Motoroller Scampotron (WmC), Sunday, 27 December 2020 19:50 (one year ago) link

There's a few others I might argue were equally sure-footed but yeah

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 27 December 2020 19:53 (one year ago) link

The three I like more than Blimp aren't much better than Blimp, nothing in it at all really

Sorry Halfway there I FPed you for heresy

Uptown Top Scamping (Noodle Vague), Sunday, 27 December 2020 19:55 (one year ago) link

I like the sweet and humane side of Powell and Pressburger better than the dark perverse side, so while I admire Black Narcissus and Red Shoes from an aesthetic standpoint I don't love them as I do Colonel Blimp, I Know Where I'm Going and A Matter of Life and Death.

I would vote for Colonel Blimp any time, partly because it appeals to my squishily sentimental nature, partly because the performances and the scope of it are so extraordinary, and partly because it has so many individual scenes that are preserved in my mind as Great Moments in Cinema - the main ones being Anton Walbrook's monologue in the immigration office and the device where the wall fills up with heads.

Lily Dale, Sunday, 27 December 2020 19:56 (one year ago) link

Colonel Blimp would be my vote too. It's one of my absolute favourite films. I watch it once a year or so, and it always amazes me with its warmth and sadness, and the brilliance of the three main actors.

I Know Where I'm Going! and Black Narcissus are up there too. I'm not super fond of The Red Shoes outside of the central dance sequence.

jmm, Sunday, 27 December 2020 20:18 (one year ago) link

they've got The Tales Of Hoffmann on mubi right now. I've never been able to get into that so I re-watched A Canterbury Tale instead last night. Colonel Blimp is a movie I can re-watch a hundred times.

calzino, Sunday, 27 December 2020 22:04 (one year ago) link

xp would you want a version of Gone to Earth that wasn't overcooked?

JoeStork, Sunday, 27 December 2020 22:14 (one year ago) link

Mubi UK?

And Then There’s Maudit (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 27 December 2020 22:19 (one year ago) link

I'm not sure I voted in this one. Back then my vote would've been The Red Shoes but now I'm sure it'd be I Know Where I'm Going or The Life and Death of Col. Blimp. (Or still The Red Shoes.)

Haven't seen Gone to Earth. Black Narcissus has a judicious amount of melodrama, Red Shoes goes way overboard. The earlier films I recall having too much stiff-upper-lip "I say, I say" business. Not Powell's fault that that was the time and place he was born in, but he doesn't overcome it either.
I recall that my father saw Moira Shearer dance the Red Shoes Ballet in London in the 40s.

Halfway there but for you, Sunday, 27 December 2020 22:23 (one year ago) link

Sister Clodagh, we may proceed with our plans at Mopu. It will be called Saint Faith.

And Then There’s Maudit (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 27 December 2020 22:23 (one year ago) link

yeah Mubi UK

calzino, Sunday, 27 December 2020 22:29 (one year ago) link

Interesting thing that came up recently was Jimmie Rodgers being a big consumer of the scent Black Narcissus.

Dog Heavy Manners (James Redd and the Blecchs), Monday, 28 December 2020 02:47 (one year ago) link

one year passes...

A rainy morning prompted me to watch A Canterbury Tale. What a strange, beautiful film. I'd agree that John Sweet is too broad but his wide-eyedness, gauche and wooden at the start, is perfect by the end: he's brilliant with the kids, in the cathedral and in the final scenes in the cafe. I haven't really got my head around Colpeper yet. He's a cipher in lots of ways but also the stained glass window of the film (however grubby. I guess it's not a huge leap from 'Colpeper' to 'Peeper'.). Sheila Sim is wonderful.

I've been walking chunks of the Pilgrim's Way over the last few years. I was in a tiny church in a small Hampshire village. I assumed I was alone but as I stood gaping in the doorway a hidden voice murmured 'are you a pilgrim?'. I'm wondering if I'll ever make it to Canterbury but that's quite the question to be asked with all eternity watching on. I'm still shuttling back and forth between yes and no.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Sunday, 15 May 2022 12:11 (one month ago) link

lol

Orson on Powell and Pressburger pic.twitter.com/GLuPiq5khm

— John Frankensteiner (@JFrankensteiner) May 7, 2022

Malevolent Arugula (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 15 May 2022 12:13 (one month ago) link


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