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 Post subject: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2007 4:44 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 7:37 am
Location: Denmark/Sweden
Michael Powell (1905-1990)

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Well, I've always been a very serious-minded person,
but people don't know it, really, they're always puzzled
by my films, that there's usually something going on in
the film besides what you're looking at, which is of
course, the contact with the director, an audience has a
contact with the story on the screen and also with the
director who is telling the story. This is why a director in
making a film is such a strange thing - there are some
directors who are just card indexes, machines, just put
the thing very well on the screen and that's it. But there
are others, who are holding an unspoken communication
with the audience all the time, and I'm one of those, and
the audience is saying "Well, there's something going on"
- I've had this said to me - "There's things going on in your
films, particularly in this sequence, which I didn't understand
but it fascinated me" and I didn't say anything - what it is,
is the direct contact with the audience with the director.

~ Michael Powell

(from an interview with Kevin Brownlow for Time Out, 1977)


Filmography

Riviera Revels (1928)

Two Crowded Hours (1931)

My Friend the King (1932)

The Rasp (1932)

Rynox (1932)

The Star Reporter (1932)

Hotel Splendide (1932)

C.O.D. (1932)

His Lordship (1932)

Born Lucky (1933)

The Fire Raisers (1934)

Red Ensign (1934) Classic British Thrillers

Something Always Happens (1934)

The Girl in the Crowd (1935)

Lazybones (1935)

The Love Test (1935)

The Night of the Party (1935)

The Phantom Light (1935) Classic British Thrillers

The Price of a Song (1935)

Some Day (1935)

Her Last Affaire (1936)

The Brown Wallet (1936)

Crown vs. Stevens (1936)

The Man Behind the Mask (1936)

The Edge of the World (1937) Milestone (R1) / BFI (R2 UK)

Smith (1939)

The Spy in Black (1939) Magna Pacific (R4 AU)

The Lion Has Wings (1939) Magna Pacific (R4 AU) - as The Korda Collection double feature with Q Planes

Contraband (1940) Kino (R1)

The Thief of Bagdad (co-directed with Ludwig Berger and Tim Whelan, 1940) MGM (R1) / Network (R2 UK) / IVC (R2 JP)

An Airman's Letter to His Mother (short, 1941) Milestone (R1) - included as extra on The Edge of the World

49th Parallel (1941) Criterion (R1) / Carlton (R2 UK) - also included in the Powell and Pressburger Collection / Warner (R2 FR)

One of Our Aircraft Is Missing* (1942) Marathon Music & Video (R1) - as part of World War II Movies: The Collector's Series / Universal (R2 UK)

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp* (1943) Criterion (R1) / Carlton (R2 UK) - also as Powell & Pressburger Double Bill and included in the Powell and Pressburger Collection / Warner (R2 FR)

The Volunteer* (1943)

A Canterbury Tale* (1944) Criterion (R1) / Carlton (R2 UK) - also included in the Powell and Pressburger Collection

I Know Where I'm Going!* (1945) Criterion (R1) / Carlton (R2 UK) - also included in the Powell and Pressburger Collection

A Matter of Life and Death* (1946) Carlton (R2 UK) - also as Powell & Pressburger Double Bill and included in the Powell and Pressburger Collection / IVC (R2 JP)

Black Narcissus* (1947) Criterion (R1) / Network (R2 UK) / Warner (R2 FR) / ITV (R2 UK) - also included in the Powell and Pressburger Collection (not available on the initial Carlton/HMV release)

The Red Shoes* (1948) Criterion (R1) / Carlton (R2 UK) - also included in the Powell and Pressburger Collection / Granada Ventures (R2 UK) - as part of The Rank Collection / Warner (R2 FR) / Tohokushinsha (R2 JP) / Roadshow Entertainment (R4 AU)

The Small Black Room* (1949) Warner (R2 UK)

The Elusive Pimpernel* (1950)

Gone to Earth* (1950) Fremantle (R2 UK)

The Tales of Hoffmann* (1951) Criterion (R1) / ITV (R2 UK) - included in Powell and Pressburger Collection (not available on the initial Carlton/HMV release) / Imagica (R2 JP)

The Wild Heart* (1952)

The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1955)

Oh… Rosalinda!* (1955) PVB Editions (R2 FR)

The Battle of the River Plate* (1956) Carlton (R2 UK) - also included in Powell and Pressburger Collection / Optimum Releasing (R2 UK) - as part of The Complete War Collection

Ill Met by Moonlight* (1957) Carlton (R2 UK) - also included in Powell and Pressburger Collection

Luna de mile / Honeymoon (1959)

Peeping Tom (1960) Criterion (R1) / Optimum Releasing (R2 UK) / Universal (R4 AU)

The Queen's Guards (1961)

Herzog Blaubart's Burg / Bluebeard's Castle (1964)

Espionage (3 TV episodes, 1964)

The Defenders (TV episode, 1965)

The Nurses (TV episode, 1965)

They're a Weird Mob (1966) Carlton (R2 UK) - included in the Powell and Pressburger Collection / Roadshow Entertainment (R4 AU)

Age of Consent (1969)

The Boy Who Turned Yellow (1972)

Return to the Edge of the World (1978) Criterion (R1) - included as extra on I Know Where I'm Going!

* Films upon which Michael Powell shared writer/director/producer credit with Emeric Pressburger


General Discussion

In Glorious Technicolor - Screen captures and discussion of Thief of Bagdad

Powell's Gone to Earth and Age of Consent restored?


Recommended Web Resources

American Film - "A Romantic Sensibility: The Films of Michael Powell" Article by David Thomson (November, 1980)

British Film Institute - Excerpts from two NFT Interviews by Kevin Gough-Yates and Ian Christie in 1971 and 1985, respectively

British Film Institute - "Fantastic Life" Article by Mark Duguid

Criterion - "Peeping Tom" Essay by Laura Mulvey for the DVD release

Criterion - "The Red Shoes" Essay by Ian Christie for the DVD release

Film Comment - "Very Tender Film, a Very Nice One: Michael Powell's Peeping Tom" Article by Elliott Stein (September, 1979)

Film Comment - "Peerless Powell" by Kennedy Harlan & Nigel Andrews (May, 1979)

Independent - "A Genius Without a Job" by David Thomson (1 October, 1995)

The Powell & Pressburger Pages - Extremely extensive and very informative fan site with hundreds of reviews and articles covering the entire careers of Powell and Pressburger

Senses of Cinema -"Age of Consent" article by Christopher Bourne

Senses of Cinema - "An Airman's Letter to His Mother" article by Tony Williams

Senses of Cinema - "All for Art(-ifice)" article by Peter H. Kemp

Senses of Cinema - "Contexts in which to Place They're a Weird Mob" and into which "You Might Never Have Placed it Before" article by Quentin Turnour

Senses of Cinema - "Contraband" by Alexander C. Ives

Senses of Cinema - "Dancing with the Devil You Know: On Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes" article by Karli Lukas

Senses of Cinema - "The Director as Peeping Tom: A Matter of Life, Death and Cinema" article by Adrian Danks

Senses of Cinema - "The Edge of the World" article by Darragh O'Donoghue

Senses of Cinema - "Gone to Earth" article by Martyn Bamber

Senses of Cinema - "Oh Boy!" article on Oh Rosalinda! By David Cairns

Senses of Cinema - "Peeping Tom" article by Peter Wilshire

Senses of Cinema - "The Small Black Room" article by Adrian Danks


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 8:31 am 
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Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
As the complete "Espionage" series is now available on disc from Network (a first review here), I'm curious whether anyone has seen the Powell-directed episodes and could give some comments. Are they just 'normal' TV work (I don't mean that pejoratively, and I know there are many fans of these 60s series out there), or can one discern the 'Powell touch' one way or another? I actually quite liked Powell's TV children film "The boy who turned yellow", and wonder whether these episodes are of similar quality.


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:24 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2005 3:13 am
There's a small review of the Powell content of the Network Discs here.

George


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 9:29 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:47 am
Location: Cambridge, England
For those of you in the UK able to get to Cambridge in September, there's a Tribute to Jack Cardiff at The Cambridge Film Festival.

September 19 - The Red Shoes - Digital Restoration.

September 20 - Black Narcissus.

September 21 - AMOLAD.

September 22 - Jack Cardiff: Painter with Light - An evening with Ian Christie.


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 4:44 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
Added DVD links for The Red Ensign and The Phantom Light above.

Even in these quota quickies, you can see Powell's talent emerging. Red Ensign tackles what is for me a deeply tedious subject (a revolution in shipbuilding!) and indulges in much ridiculous capital-and-labour-all-in-this-together nonsense (consistent with Powell's misty-eyed High Tory values, anyway), but there are some interesting Eisenstein-influenced mass montages and the whole thing moves at quite a clip. Even in such pinched circumstances, Powell makes great use of stock footage to create impressive effects of scale.

The Phantom Light is even better and more characteristic. The thriller plot is completely generic, but Powell simply uses it as an excuse for an early exploration of the maritime regionalism that would lead to The Edge of the World and I Know Where I'm Going, this time in Wales. We're also starting to see some of his eccentric characterisation emerging and, in the lighthouse where most of the action takes place, a strong early example of one of his carefully defined, treacherous settings (cf. Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, The Edge of the World). You've always got to mind that first step with Michael Powell.

But the real find on the Classic British Thrillers disc is The Upturned Glass by Lawrence Huntington (who?). Its 'perfect crime' premise is hard to swallow, but it's well acted, beautifully shot, and there are a host of really smart little riffs and details in the story, staging and performance that keep things inventive even though you can see just about every twist and turn a quarter hour ahead. My favourite such detail comes when an important shift in the story depends upon reading the expression in the eyes of a minor character the rest of whose face is completely obscured.


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:55 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:48 pm
Location: hollywoodland, ca
zedz wrote:
But the real find on the Classic British Thrillers disc is The Upturned Glass by Lawrence Huntington (who?). Its 'perfect crime' premise is hard to swallow, but it's well acted, beautifully shot, and there are a host of really smart little riffs and details in the story, staging and performance that keep things inventive even though you can see just about every twist and turn a quarter hour ahead. My favourite such detail comes when an important shift in the story depends upon reading the expression in the eyes of a minor character the rest of whose face is completely obscured.


Thanks for mentioning this, I had been unaware of the disc but will make sure to pick it up. I have never seen a Huntington movie but have heard from reliable sources that his 40s thrillers are very worthy, particularly Upturned Glass, Man on the Run, and Wanted for Murder, perhaps a bit of a Brit Joseph Lewis or Hugo Fregonese. I looked around for his stuff for a while but didn't find anything and had almost forgotten him until I saw your post. He certainly seems worth a look!


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:39 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:24 pm
On the strength of this film, Huntington certainly seems like a worthy 'subject for further investigation' and it was a smart move including his film with the two Powells, since it would surely have been completely overlooked otherwise. If any of his other films surface on DVD, let me know!


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 Post subject: The Elusive Pimpernel
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:49 am 
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Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
Thanks to a kind person who sent me a copy I was finally able to watch "The Elusive Pimpernel" last night. And I cannot quite understand why so few people seem to care for it. Admittedly, there are some problems with the film: the pacing occasionally seems off, it's dragging a bit in the middle and the end feels rushed; and it seems that the film never really can decide whether it wants to be a cloak&dagger-film, a parody of that, or something quite different (it was originally planned to be a musical, and you can still see a lot of traces of this idea in the film).

Powell also famously complained about having had to accept Margaret Leighton as the female lead and still uses uncommonly (for him) unkind words for her in his autobiography, but after all, I find her quite convincing in the end product, as her stagey performance chimes in nicely with the whole artificiality that the film exudes. This artificiality might be seen as the major problem of the film, but it's also its greatest asset: the early scene in the bathhouse would have made Peter Greenaway envious. Hein Heckroth and his crew simply did a marvellous job on the sets and the costumes, and more often than not this feels like a vast pre-study for "Hoffmann". Interiors and clothes are often breathtakingly beautiful (as are the girls), and the foppish elegance and stiltedness of many scenes surely takes this quite far over into camp territory (but P&P always had a leaning towards camp, and if it's done with such an assured hand as here, it's really more a cause for enjoyment than distraction). Chris Challis' camerawork and Powell's direction are as magical as ever; the Mont-Saint-Michel sequences especially are jaw-dropping and should be a delight to anyone who cares for visual qualities in film.

Sure, "Pimpernel" is nowhere as pitch-perfect as P&P's major works, and there is certainly little to discuss in terms of the great P&P themes (art vs life, love and spirituality and so on), which is perhaps why the film is always only mentioned in passing in books about them. And while this might be the weakest of the 'small trio' that also includes "The Small Back Room" and "Gone to Earth", this is surely no ugly duckling in their filmography and is miles ahead of their final three films, starting with "Rosalinda". If you don't expect too much in terms of dramatic suspense or high art, "Pimpernel" works very well on its own terms. I found it hugely enjoyable.


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:53 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 11:12 am
New UK DVD release of The Spy in Black


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Fri Oct 04, 2013 4:31 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
Potentially good news: the German label Filmjuwelen announces a release of "Oh...Rosalinda!" for the second quarter of 2014. They call it "Fledermaus 1955", and of course no details about aspect ratio or English soundtrack yet. The label isn't bad, at least as far as their releases of German films are concerned, so fingers crossed.


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Sat Oct 05, 2013 4:56 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 01, 2005 12:30 pm
Location: Athens of the North
There's also this in a couple of weeks
http://www.amazon.fr/49e-parall%C3%A8le ... +parallele
which perhaps bodes well for a Criterion upgrade?


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 9:30 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:25 am
Fledermaus 1955 sounds as great as Liebe 1962 (try guessing which film was called that).

To be frank, the best place to gather knowledge on new versions/releases of Powell is either the Archers-Archive-Website or the imdb forums of each respective title. Their fans are quite impressively informed.


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 Post subject: Re: Michael Powell
PostPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:08 am 
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Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
Well, in both cases these were simply the German distribution titles of that time, and in the case of "Oh...Rosalinda!" it even makes some sort of sense, given that the film is basically an updated version of Johann Strauss' operetta (which had been filmed several times before under its original title "Die Fledermaus"). But "Liebe 1962" for "L'eclisse" is indeed a joke.


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