Thursday, December 31, 2015

Nugget Reviews - 20

For this edition of the Nugget Reviews, we thought we'd shine the spotlight on some of our favorite films to watch before the ball drops on New Year's Eve. The beginning of the year always gets us excited about upcoming camping trips and so these five films all feature camping sequences. They have become favorite New Year's Eve films over the years.


The Courtship of Eddie's Father ( 1963 ) 18k


A widower's son tries to match his father up with their apartment neighbor who is a divorcee.  Glenn Ford, Shirley Jones, Dina Merrill, Ron Howard, Roberta Sherwood. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Directed by Vincent Minnelli. 

This is one of the most underrated gems of the 1960s. Vincent Minnelli directs a really heart-warming comedy with scenes that make you laugh, smile, and cry all at the same moment. Ron Howard is excellent as little Eddie but it is Glenn Ford that steals the show with his portrayal of a distraught widower. Keep an eye out for country-western singer Roberta Sherwood in her role as the "live-out" housemaid studying Spanish for a trip to Brazil. The film also has a great New Year's Eve sequence. 


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Now, Voyager ( 1942 ) 18k 


An old maid takes an ocean voyage to South America based on a recommendation from her doctor, falls in love, and then returns to care for her aging mother and take control of her new life.  Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Gladys Cooper, Claude Rains. Warner Bros. Directed by Irving Rapper. 

This is one of Bette Davis' most fondly-remembered films and it's no wonder, Now Voyager is entertaining woman's-fare and has held up remarkably well over the years. Davis transforms from an frumpy old maid to a glamorous socialite in a not-too-unbelievable way and Paul Henried is simply dashing as the man who helps her break from her shell. Bonita Granville has a nice spot as her taunting niece. 
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The Parent Trap ( 1961 ) 18k


Two teenagers meet at summer camp and discover they are separated twins. They then scheme to bring their divorced parents back together. Hayley Mills, Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Una Merkel. Walt Disney Studios. Directed by David Swift. 

One of our all-time favorite Disney films....The Parent Trap was a huge success upon its release and launched Hayley Mills to stardom. You would think it is a little too long for children to sit through but the film is so entertaining that time flies by swiftly. But truly the comedic sequences are more amusing to adults than children. Maureen O'Hara looks stunning as the twins' mother, Maggie. She was 41 years old when she played the part. 
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Man's Favorite Sport? ( 1964 ) 14k


A sporting goods salesman, believed to be a fishing expert, is exposed by two women during a famous fishing competition. Rock Hudson, Paula Prentiss, John McGiver, Maria Perschy. Universal Pictures. Directed by Howard Hawks.

Howard Hawks had a hit on his hand with Bringing Up Baby back in 1938. Man's Favorite Sport? combines many of the same elements used in B.U.B ( including a few of the same gags ) but in a refreshingly different way. Paula Prentiss made a career of playing ditzy gals and you won't find her crazier than she is here. What stands out in this film are the settings however : Lake Wakapugi, the lodge, the campsite, the Abercrombie & Fitch sporting goods section.....all colorful settings. 

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The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour - Lucy Hunts Uranium ( 1958 )  14k 


The Ricardos and the Mertzes take a trip out west and believe they have discovered uranium nuggets in the desert. Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance, William Frawley, Fred MacMurray, June Haver. Desilu Productions. Directed by Jerry Thorpe. 

After I Love Lucy ended, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball embarked upon an hour-long format of the show retitled "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour". The series took off from where I Love Lucy ended with the Ricardos and the Mertzes still living in Connecticut. In this episode they head out West and get caught up in "uranium" fever after discovering what they believe to be a uranium stash. This leads to the Mertzes and Ricardos racing to get to the claims office first in a scene reminiscent of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. Fred MacMurray and his real-life wife June Haver guest star. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie Game

What does a group of adults do when they gather together during the winter? Act like children and have a snowball fight, of course! If you can guess the film this screenshot is from then your brains obviously have not been frozen by Old Man Winter's frosty breath yet. 


As usual, if you are not familiar with the rules to the Impossibly Difficult Name that Movie game or the prize, click here.

Good luck guessing! 

GAME OVER. 

Congratulations to The Tactful Typist for correctly guessing "H.M Pulham Esq" ( 1941 ). In this scene Ruth Hussey just got whacked with a snowball thrown by Robert Young. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Turf Cigarette Cards - The Big Head Film Stars

We all know movie stars sometimes let the lights and glamour swell their heads, but Turf cigarettes thought they would literally show the Hollywood stars with big heads on one of their trading card series called "Film Stars". They are actually quite amusing, so we thought we'd share some of these cards in a gallery format down below. 

Turf cigarettes was one of the many brands owned by Carreras Tobacco Company of London which also released Black Cat, Chic, Piccadilly, and Craven brand cigarettes. 

In the 1920s the company began issuing cards which were inserted in every pack of cigarettes. This "Film Stars" series was most likely released in the late 1940s and it featured major English and American movie stars in their most famous, or most recent, starring roles. 

Enjoy the gallery! 













Thursday, December 3, 2015

Winter Sports in Films of the 1930s and 1940s

Whether you were born in a warm climate or the heart of the Arctic itself, the appeal of winter sports is undeniable. The crisp cold air, the thrill of the high-speeds, the beauty of the surrounding scenery capped off with the enjoyment of warming up with a cup of hot cocoa while sitting beside a roaring fire is one of the best pleasures to be had in winter. And if you are lucky enough to have a roasted sweet-potato near by, grab it. 

However, if there are palm trees blowing gently in the breeze outside your window, or so much snow has fallen that you can't shovel your way out of the house, then the next best thing to participating in winter sports is watching others romp in the snow. 


So grab a cola, find some pretty brunettes ( or a Jerry Colonna ) to sit beside and enjoy some good old-fashioned winter fun courtesy of Hollywood's dream factory. 

SKATING

All of the popular stars of the 1930s and 1940s strapped on a pair of skates and hit the ice ( sometimes the hard way ) for at least one film. Sonja Henie, the most famous ice skater of the 1930s starred in ten productions for 20th Century Fox during her reign as the studio's ice queen. You can see her twirl in dizzying circles in One in a Million ( 1936 ), Happy Landing ( 1938 ), Second Fiddle ( 1939 ) and Wintertime ( 1943 ) where she starred opposite such glamour boys as Don Ameche and Cesar Romero.

Don't go expecting any triple-salchows however. While Sonja was the top in her field in her day ( she won three Olympic gold medals ), ten-year old skaters can outdo her moves these days. The Norwegian gal with the dimples had charm and that made up for a large part of her star appeal. Incidentally, the "ice" that she skated on was primarily frozen milk. On black and white film, water did not give off the milky white texture that the studios wanted so they mixed some cow's milk into it to give it a shine. 

The Ice Follies, which began in 1936 and toured around the world, were all the rage in the 1930s and, of course, when something is the rage Hollywood is bound to make a film about it. Joan Crawford was pushed onto the ice along with James Stewart and Lew Ayres ( playing a drunk again ) in The Ice Follies of 1939. The movie has its entertaining moments ( including a sparkling Technicolor finale with Roy and Eddie Shipstad, the founders of the Ice Follies, doing some of the skating routines ) but it crashed at the box office. 


That didn't stop Republic from releasing another Follies-themed film just two years later : Ice-Capades starring James Ellison. He looked good on ice, and so did Clark Gable and Jean Harlow when they attempted to glide without falling in Wife Vs. Secretary ( 1936 ). 

Bette Davis tried skating, too, but she fell on her rump in The Man Who Came to Dinner ( 1942 ). If you want to learn how to showoff on skates like Joseph Cotten did in The Farmer's Daughter ( 1946 ), then it's best to watch a tutorial first. Mickey Mouse gives viewers some points in On Ice ( 1935 ). 


Of course, having a partner to support you helps - just look at how much fun Loretta Young had with Cary Grant in The Bishop's Wife ( 1947 ). 


SKIING 

If you don't care for the graceful art of figure skating then how about experiencing the thrill of cold air rushing against your face as you head down the slopes on a pair of skis? We're cross-country ski enthusiasts ourselves, so instead of risking our necks on the mountainside we prefer to watch our favorite stars hit the slopes...by standing in front of a backdrop screen. 


One of our all-time favorite actors - Melvyn Douglas - could often be found playing in the artificial snow. Claudette Colbert met him on the slopes at St. Moritz in I Met Him in Paris ( 1937 ) and Mary Astor stumbled down the hill with him in And So They Were Married ( 1936 ). 

Greta Garbo also found him in the snowbanks in Idaho in Two-Faced Woman ( 1941 ). Barbara Stanwyck went to Lake Arrowhead to look for Melvyn but all she found was George Brent in My Reputation ( 1946 ). It cost her her reputation too. 

That's what happens when you don't know how to ski, you end up bumping into fellows you didn't plan on meeting. If that is a common problem then it's best to learn the fundamentals of skiing. Goofy demonstrates proper technique in The Art of Skiing ( 1941 ) with comical results. It makes you want to consider buying life insurance. 

The Alps were the ideal place and definitely the "in" place to ski during the 1930s. European socialites would go sloping on the mountains for amusement just as American society went slumming in the cities. 

Even members of royalty like Prince Rudolph ( Tyrone Power ) went to Switzerland to enjoy the fresh mountain air and the excitement of downhill skiing. It was his only form of relaxation, poor boy. Not only did he manage to get a few days of skiing into his busy schedule but he met another winter sports enthusiast ( Sonja Henie ) whom he fell in love with in Thin Ice ( 1937 ). Robert Young found romance with Florence Eldridge on the Alpine slopes as well in Paradise for Three ( 1938 ).

Most Americans could not afford to travel to the Alps, so they opted to head to the most famous ski resort of the West - Sun Valley, Idaho. 

Not only was the snow perfect for skiing but you could find Sonja Henie there too ( she certainly got around ). In Sun Valley Serenade ( 1941 ) she played a Norwegian refugee showing off her skiing and skating talent to the band manager at a Sun Valley resort - who just happened to be played by John Payne, another actor who looked great in cold-climate pictures. 

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello caught ski-fever when they headed out to Sun Valley for Hit the Ice ( 1943 ). They tried dog-sledding but found out that rolling like a snowball gets you down a hill faster! 

American society enjoyed the fun to be had in Sun Valley too. Gene Tierney played an heiress who meets a swell looking guy ( Tyrone Power ) at a resort in That Wonderful Urge ( 1948 ). Alright, he turned out to be a reporter, but heiresses can't expect everything to be perfect. 

Well, there you have it folks....these are just a few film suggestions to get you off of your couch and out of the house where you can enjoy the brisk cool air and the pleasure to be found in winter sports. 

See you on the slopes!
This post is our contribution to the Winter Sports Blogathon being hosted by Le Mot du Cinephiliaque . Be sure to head on over there to read more posts on films that featured your favorite winter sports.




Saturday, November 28, 2015

Announcing the Oscars Snubs Blogathon!

We all love the Oscars but, admit it, most of the time we drop our jaws in aghast when we hear the winners of the Oscar awards announced. Well, Quiggy, over at The Midnite Drive-In came up with the fabulous idea of hosting a blogathon to give us film fans the chance to celebrate the people and films that didn't win but whom we felt deserved the award and yours truly, Diana and Constance, are proud to be co-hosting this event!

Re-posted from The Midnite Drive-In

Announcing The Oscars Snubs Blogathon!  (Feb 26-28, 2016)

It happens every year.  Until recently 5 nominees vied for such varied categories as Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Director, among others.  We as fans are not part of the process of choosing, and sometimes we think our choice was better.  This is a chance to make your case heard.


Think Double Indemnity should have beaten out Going My Way for Best Picture in 1944?  Was Rex Harrison really the Best Actor of the bunch in 1964, or were either Richard Burton or Peter O'Toole more deserving?  And, really, seriously?  Was Marisa Tomei really the Best Supporting Actress of 1992?

The rules are simple here.  You can pick any category.  You can pick any year.  The only stipulation is the picture (or person) must have been one of the other nominees in that category for that year, but didn't win.  Otherwise I'd be getting some quack choices like "Plan 9 from Outer Space should have won Best Picture of 1959..."

Let's not fight over topics!

I'd like to have variety so only one person can do a specific movie or an actor in a movie, but I will stretch a point.  If someone wants to pick, say, The Hustler as Best Picture of 1961, someone else could still pick Paul Newman as Best Actor in The Hustler, and make an entirely different case.

Let's have some fun with it.  The blogathon will be scheduled to go live on Oscar weekend 2016.  (Feb. 26-28)  You can pick any of those three days.  Post your choice in the comments below and let's get the ball rolling!  Then grab one of the banners below to post to your blog.

 

 

 

Note: This blogathon and the hosting blogs are in no way affiliated with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Oscars is a registered trademark of the Academy Awards.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Allyn Joslyn - Pompous but Adorable

If you are not an unabashed Allyn Joslyn fan then the first thing you will be thinking as you look to the right at this profile would be "Oh yes, that guy. He always plays unscrupulous fellows or pompous bores." And d'you know what? It's true, he often did...so if you like you can stop reading here. But, mark my words, there will come a time when you will be watching a movie with Allyn Joslyn in it and you'll find yourself saying "I like this guy! ( bore or not )". And then you'll wish you read on....

There's something about Joslyn's style that makes him likable in spite of the crummy characters he often played during the fifteen years he spent working at 20th Century Fox. His characters were never outright villains, they were just disreputable people not even worthy of being hissed at - unscrupulous journalists, cowards, grinning two-timers, and ( he may not have played this part but he could have ) men that would welsh on a bet. 

Allyn Joslyn was born in Milford, Pennsylvania on July 21, 1901. Directly out of high school he embarked on a career in acting and was kept busy throughout the 1920s playing on Broadway at theatres such as the Morosco, Apollo, and Garrick. It was his performance as Robert Law in "Boy Meets Girl" ( which also featured another famous character actor, Jerome Cowan ) that led him to Hollywood where he got his first film role as a brash reporter in 1937's They Won't Forget starring Claude Rains. It was an unsavory role for ones debut but Joslyn did not care. He would take on many more roles like this in his future. That's what I like about Joslyn. He'd tackle anything and don't think he didn't. Remember the character Chic Clark in My Sister Eileen ( 1943 )? He was the reporter that made unwelcome advances towards Eileen. That was Joslyn's role, by gum. Striped suits and spats fitted him so well. 


He played another reporter in the film noir classic I Wake Up Screaming ( 1941 ) and who can forget Don Ameche's obnoxious cousin Albert in the Ernst Lubitsch comedy Heaven Can Wait? What a snob! 

Joslyn could play lily-livered characters with such excellence that he made them appealing, so it's no wonder that when he played good-hearted men he was twice as lovable. In Immortal Sergeant, he was Cassidy, one of the five soldiers stranded in the North African desert during WWII. Here he portrayed a very Robert Coote-ish English soldier character. The men were lost and had to endure hunger and thirst but who was the only soldier who didn't complain? Cassidy. He even had a broken leg to put up with. When Cottrel ( played by Morton Lowry ) suggested that they leave the body of their sergeant behind without a decent Christian burial, Cassidy gave him a good piece of his mind. 

Another beloved role - Mortimor Brewster. Yes, you read that right. He starred as Mortimor in the original stage production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" at the Fulton Theatre on Broadway which played for an impressive 1444 performances. He managed to squeeze in 3-4 films a year while "Arsenic" was in production too. Jean Adair, Josephine Hull and John Alexander would go on to reprise their roles in Hollywood while Boris Karloff and Allyn Joslyn were surprisingly left out. 

In 1943 he received star-billing in Dangerous Blondes, a light-hearted romp where he and Evelyn Keyes portrayed a husband and wife detective duo attempting to solve the murder of a fashion photographer. This film never earned itself a sequel, but for his next film Joslyn once again got a prominent part - Strange Confession ( 1944 ). This was a more serious WW2 role compared to the stuffy comic Nazi he played in The Wife Takes a Flyer several years earlier. 

In the comedy Junior Miss ( 1948 ) Joslyn played a loving father who had to endure the hijinks of his two teenage daughters. Joslyn was a family man in real life, too ( with one daughter, rather than two ) so this character probably came easy to him. In fact, he was one of the few Hollywood actors who married once and for keeps. 

During the late 1940s and early 1950s he had a number of roles in popular films such as Harriet Craig, The Jazz Singer, If You Knew Susie, and Island in the Sky where he played J.H Handy, one of the crew members of the Douglas C-47 that makes a forced landing in the uncharted wildlands of Labrador. 

Any part that came Joslyn's way he grabbed and because of that he had steady work and his mustached face could be seen in dramas, musicals, westerns and comedies. A particularly good part was that of Clem Otis in Moonrise ( 1948 ) the kind and philosophical sheriff who's on the trail of Danny ( Dane Clark ) a man who is haunted by his father's criminal past. 

Joslyn once again donned the striped suit in Titanic ( 1953 ) returning to the slimy depths to play the ultimate of degradable characters - Earl Meeker, the man who dressed himself as a woman in order to sneak onto a lifeboat. You gotta love this guy. Even Clifton Webb is giving him a shameful glance and Webb was no saint himself in this film. 


When television became a staple in American's homes Joslyn switched to the new medium and was seen in numerous anthology "theater" productions as well as sitcoms. He had a recurring role as George Howall in The Eve Arden Show ( 1957 ) and later a starring role in his own series McKeever and the Colonel ( 1963 ) which lasted only one season.

After a brief part in The Addams Family ( 1966 ) as truant officer Sam Hilliard, Joslyn decided to call it quits and retired, returning to films once last time as a sheriff in The Brothers O'Toole ( 1973 ).                                                                                                  
This post is our contribution the fabulous What a Character! blogathon celebrating all the actors who faces we know but not their names. Be sure to head on over to Once Upon a Screen, Paula's Cinema Club or Outspoken and Freckled to check out the complete line-up of posts. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Films of Powell and Pressburger

The films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger have developed a cult following in recent decades due to the increased exposure of their work through revival showings and the Criterion DVD and Blu-ray releases. Powell and Pressburger societies,fan clubs, tribute blogs and other websites devoted to their films are now in abundance. 

What makes the Powell and Pressburger films so endearing? Their unique style for one thing. Just as a Hitchcock film is instantly recognizable, so are Powell and Pressburger's movies in spite of the completely different subject matters they tackled. They created mesmerizing films that were different than any being made by their contemporaries; different in subject matter, set design, cinematography, and dialogue. Color was their forte and they were pioneers in the use of the new medium. Some of these productions ( Black Narcissus, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp ) still rank among the most beautiful ever filmed. Each was of superior quality and well ahead of its time. Together this team utilized cinema to its maximum potential and elevated the art to new standards.  

THE ARCHERS 


Michael Powell was working as director on the WWI drama The Spy in Black ( 1939 ) for British film magnate Alexander Korda when he met with screenwriter Emeric Pressburger, a Jewish immigrant from Hungary, who was asked to do some rewrites for the film. There was an instant kinship and they were once again working hand in hand for Contraband and The 49th Parallel, two anti-Nazi propaganda thrillers released through Korda. The pair adopted a joint writer-director-producer credit for their next production One of Our Aircraft is Missing before they broke from the reigns of studio production companies and incorporated their own company under the banner of The Archers, utilizing an archery target as their logo. 

"He knows what I am going to say even before I say it - maybe even before I have thought it - and that is very rare. You are lucky if you meet someone like that once in your life." - Pressburger on Powell

The team would collaborate on 13 films before the disbandment of The Archers in 1957, but the string of work made back to back between 1943 and 1950 ( notably I Know Where I'm Going, Black Narcissus, A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes ) remain their greatest contributions to world cinema.

While Pressburger is generally credited for writing the screenplays and Powell for directing, they often stepped into each other's realms and contributed ideas for the betterment of each film in its whole. Pressburger produced the pictures and also enjoyed being closely involved in the final edit, especially in the way music was being used since he was a musician himself. 

SUBTLE AND NOT SO SUBTLE 

"...Every single foot in our films is our own responsibility and nobody else's. We refuse to be guided or coerced by any influence but our own judgement," Pressburger wrote in a letter to Deborah Kerr explaining why she should join them for The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. 

In the era of the studio systems, creative freedom was something all directors longed for and this was a driving force in their decision to create their own production company. With full control of their output they were free to imagine and develop stories that gave their audiences food for thought in an entertaining and aesthetically unique manner. 

A simple but strong message was the cornerstone of each film, although many had numerous subtexts woven into its script. The Powell and Pressburger films were never about artificial characters, instead each film focused on the common laborer and touched on issues that the audience would relate to - love, friendship, ambition, hatred, war, death. 

"No artist believes in escapism. And we secretly believe that no audience does. We have proved, at any rate, that they will pay to see the truth, for other reasons than her nakedness." - Emeric Pressburger

Their films were always out of step with mainstream British cinema...much to their credit. If they had a message that they desired to tell, they went ahead and wrote a film to tell it, regardless of how it would be accepted by the public. When The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp was released at the height of World War II, it was heavily attacked by critics and audiences for its sympathetic portrayal of a German soldier. Powell and Pressburger most likely foresaw that this would happen when they were developing their script but went ahead with the film anyway - they had the creative freedom to do so and a message to convey: the English were not at war with Germans merely in flesh, but in attitudes and ideals. Today, when we look back on other World War II films of the era we see patriotic flagwavers, films dealing with the folk on the homefront, and escapist musicals and comedies, but The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp stands out for its forthright message that this was a different war England was fighting and a different enemy, though it was still Germany. 
Often the messages they desired to tell were not as clear-cut as those that appeared in Colonel Blimp. In A Canterbury Tale ( 1944 ), a young woman and two soldiers journey to Canterbury for various reasons but are side-tracked by an incident in a small village involving a vandal. This inconsequential incident gives Powell and Pressburger an excuse to tarry around Britain's countryside and explore the values for which they believe the war was being fought. The soldiers held that their furlough was wasted hunting down a silly "glue man", but, instead, they come to realize that they had taken a personal journey further then any had anticipated and, upon eventually reaching Canterbury, find their desires fulfilled. 

The exact opposite of this premise was explored in I Know Where I'm Going! ( 1945 ), one of The Archers few black and white productions ( color film was in short supply in wartime Britain ). In this film we see a young ambitious woman determined to take a boat to the isle of Kiloran to wed her rich fiancee who awaits her, in spite of the fierce wind that is barraging the coast. She is a woman set on a path and determined to have her way, but Fate intervenes in the personage of a handsome lieutenant who sweeps her off her feet. Ambition has no power whatsoever over Love. 

As an author weaves his own viewpoints and personal passions into each book he writes, Powell shared his very soul with his audience through his directing. Powell had a deep love for film-making and desired to hold an unspoken communication with his audience. In Powell's own words : "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." 

Like many auteur directors, he had his favorite actors which he employed in numerous films, these included Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Roger Livesay, Finlay Currie, David Farrar, and Eric Portman. Powell had his particular favorites among the actresses too. Deborah Kerr, whom he was having an affair with during the mid-1940s, starred in two films for The Archers and was Powell's original choice for the role of Joan in I Know Where I'm Going ( 1945 ). Kathleen Byron and Pamela Brown were also special favorites ( and women whom Powell also had affairs with ). 

Many of their contemporary critics, even modern-day viewers, have questioned their taste and the motivations behind some their films, but what was running through Powell and Pressburger's minds when they made these films is inconsequential. They are cinematic works of art. A painting need not have a story or a moral behind it to remain beautiful. The Archer films would be captivating if they had no plot at all and were simply a tableau of imagery. You could spend a year picking out favorite scenes from the Powell and Pressburger films because there are just that many to choose from. Even when viewed out of context from the original film they are dramatic gems of visual splendor.
Most of this splendor can be accredited to one member of The Archers in particular - Jack Cardiff, the brilliant cinematographer on the majority of the Powell and Pressburger films. He used color and shadow not only for mere beauty's sake but to represent emotion and drive the story forward. Black Narcissus features some of his most stunning work. Witness this particular scene of Sister Ruth at her prayers. If Cardiff had used different lighting to create this scene he could have made her a devote woman but instead she appears to be wickedness in disguise, a nun with sinister intentions with her bold red lipstick and the light of the sunset upon her.

In one particular scene in A Canterbury Tale, Peter Gibbs remarks to Mr. Colpeper that "I'll believe that when I see a halo around my head" at which point shafts of sunlight beam through the window casting a glow around Gibb's head. A halo indeed. It was subtle techniques like this that Cardiff employed that raised the standard of The Archers' films. 

Michael Powell claimed in his autobiography "I had made the British film industry after my own image, and I gloried in it" a humorous - and quite egotistical - comment on the effect the team had upon British cinema. In spite of our praise of their films, we wouldn't be counted among the blind admirers of any work turned out by The Archers. A few of their films are suitable for mere tasting only and we would not be revisiting them for several years. Nevertheless, numerous filmmakers have been influenced by their works and have in turn passed on what they learned from these films unto their own. Directors David Lean, Carol Reed, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola all claim that they were influenced by the films of Powell and Pressburger. 


THE FILMS 

Contraband ( 1940 )

A Danish sea captain and a girl in wartime London expose a gang of spies. A delightful light thriller that moves along at a brisk pace. Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Esmond Knight. 

The 49th Parallel ( 1941 )

Five survivors from a destroyed U-Boat that made its way into Canadian waters, journey through the country in an attempt to cross the 49th parallel into the United States. En route, they encounter people who demonstrate their love for freedom. This is a stirring drama written to entice Americans to enter the war to help fight the Nazis. Ralph Vaughan Williams' score is a highlight.  Eric Portman, Anton Walbrook, Laurence Olivier, Niall MacGinnis, Raymond Massey. 

One of Our Aircraft is Missing ( 1942 )

After a bomber is crashed in a raid, members of the Danish resistance bring aid to its crew. This picture has its charm but is shot in more documentary-style realism and is languidly paced. Godfrey Teale, Eric Portman, Hugh Williams, Bernard Miles. 

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp ( 1943 )

A colonel looks back on his life in the army, the woman that eluded him, and the friendship he forged with a German. What he comes to realize is his military tactics are outdated in the new warfront. The Lawrence of Arabia for Powell and Pressburger - an epic film spanning three decades of a man's life...and a highly entertaining life it is. Roger Livesay, Deborah Kerr, Anton Walbrook, Ursula Jeans. 

A Canterbury Tale ( 1944 )

Two soldiers and a young woman journey to Canterbury unmasking a batty magistrate en route. A gentle lyrical film that is gloriously original and unclassifiable. Old England never looked as rosy as it does here. Eric Portman, Sheila Sim, John Sweet, Dennis Price, Edmond Knight.

I Know Where I'm Going! ( 1945 )

A woman is determined to marry her rich fiance but finds herself falling in love with a naval officer when she is delayed by foul weather for three days.  A delightful movie which captures in spirit a slice of the Hebrides which so many of us long to visit. Even today there are IKWIG tours to the locations used in this film. Wendy Hiller, Roger Livesay, Pamela Brown, Finlay Currie.

A Matter of Life and Death ( 1946 )

Set during WWII, a British pilot miraculously survives a crash due to an error in heaven. A messenger is sent to fetch him 24 hours later, but in the interval he falls in love with a young woman and decides to plea for his life before the heavenly court. This fantasy film remains one of the team's most popular works. David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesay, Marius Goring, Raymond Massey. 


Black Narcissus ( 1947 )

A group of Anglo-Catholic nuns inhabit a remote Himalayan palace as their convent and find the culture and climate of the region stir tumultuous emotions within themselves. A striking drama and one of cinema's most beautiful films. Jack Cardiff carried away the Best Cinematography Academy Award for his brilliant Technicolor work. Deborah Kerr, Flora Robson, David Farrar, Kathleen Byron, Sabu. 
The Red Shoes ( 1948 )

A young ballet student rises to become a star but must then decide between her career or her lover. A splendid production giving viewers a glimpse at life behind the curtain at a ballet. Nominated for five Academy Awards. Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Robert Helpmann.

The Small Back Room  ( 1949 )

A lame scientist takes to drinking to drown his frustration of his handicap. He gets a chance to redeem himself to his long-suffering girlfriend and prove his heroism when he risks his life to disarm an unexploded German bomb. One of Powell and Pressburger's most underrated gems and one of the few suspense thrillers they made. David Farrar, Kathleen Byron, Jack Hawkins, Leslie Banks. 
The Elusive Pimpernel ( 1950 )

A remake of The Scarlet Pimpernel which fails to entertain in spite of its great cast and almost gaudy Technicolor. David Niven, Margaret Leighton, Cyril Cusack, Jack Hawkins.

Gone to Earth ( 1950 )

Set during the 1890s, a wild Shropshire gypsy girl is desired by the local squire. Powell and Pressburger' seemed to be striving to recapture the splendor of their films of the 1940s, but it comes off as rather humorous instead. It features some beautiful location scenery of England however. Jennifer Jones, David Farrar, Cyril Cusack
Tales of Hoffman ( 1951 )

The poet Hoffman, in three adventures, is fated to enter a series of doomed love affairs with supernatural overtones. This overwhelming mixture of opera and ballet and fantastic art direction was pegged by critic Gavin Muir when he claimed "[its] the most spectacular failure yet acheived by P&P, who seem increasingly to dissipate their gifts in a welter of aimless ingenuity". Robert Rounesville, Robert Helpmann, Moira Shearer, Pamela Brown.

Oh, Rosalinda!! ( 1955 )

In post-war Vienna, a playboy performs a practical joke on an officer ( and their wives ) from each of the four ruling powers. An attempt to modernize "Die Fledermaus", which unfortunately falls flat. Anton Walbrook, Michael Redgrave, Mel Ferrer, Dennis Price, Anthony Quayle.
The Battle of the River Plate ( 1956 )

A semi-documentary account of the German pocket battleship Graf Spee which was trapped in Montevideo Harbour in 1939. A stellar cast cannot make this film rise above being just a routine battle epic. John Gregson, Anthony Quayle, Peter Finch, Bernard Lee. 

Ill Met By Moonlight ( 1957 )

A group of British officers land on the island of Crete to capture a Nazi commander. The last film released under The Archers banner, it bore very few marks of being a Powell and Pressburger production but was very popular at the box-office upon its release. Dirk Bogarde, Marius Goring, David Oxley, Cyril Cusack 
The Boy Who Turned Yellow ( 1972 )

A boy dreams that he and all the passengers on a subway turn yellow. Powell and Pressburger's last film together. This one is a bizarre one-hour children's story made for the Children's Film Foundation. Patrick Gowers, David Vorhaus. 

This post is our contribution to the Criterion Blogathon being hosted by Criterion BluesSpeakeasy and Silver Screenings. To view the impressive line-up of film articles visit any one of these blogs for a complete list. 
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