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  1. #61
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    Waahooo Christmas morning and whats in my stocking - The Criterion DVD and Paul Trittons Book - What a Christmas morning. Now all I need to do is find out when the next walk is and convince my wife we need another holiday in Kent! (we missed the 2003 walk by a week when we last visited the garden of England!)



    Hope you all have a good holiday



    Ben

  2. #62
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    A lovely film. I did have one question, though -- perhaps our military experts can answer it.



    Dennis Price's character is clearly upper class. His whole manner and speech suggests it. Ian Christie on the commentary track notes it, as have several critics. Yet he's a sergeant, not an officer. I'm probably too influenced by more traditional movie sergeants like Harry Andrews and William Hartnett and Jack Watson, but it did seem that Price was too much a toff to excercise the kind of close-quarters authority over mostly working class privates that was required of sergeants in the British Army...

  3. #63
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    Though his accentuation would have you believe otherwise, I thought his character was essentially intended to be lower to midlle class, in part due to his lack of opportunity to play such organs as the one in the cathedral aside from a positon in an industry which, at the time, would would not have been considered reputable. His character had been an organist but in the entertainment industry, and at the lower at that, I seem to recall.

  4. #64
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    Though his accentuation would have you believe otherwise, I thought his character was essentially intended to be lower to midlle class, in part due to his lack of opportunity to play such organs as the one in the cathedral aside from a positon in an industry which, at the time, would would not have been considered reputable. His character had been an organist but in the entertainment industry, and at the lower at that, I seem to recall.
    That sounds right, though Price's character went to a very good music college and studied under a renown teacher (the Canterbury organist recognizes the teacher's name, and is impressed). That probably wasn't available to many lower class students in the thirties.



    It was also a bit odd to me that Price seemed to have only two choices in life -- cathedral organist or cinema organist. Since he presumably wasn't considered good enough for the former -- or lacked the social contacts -- he could still have played part-time in any number of churches, couldn't he? A friend of mine in London has done that for decades. I can see that being a cinema organist would bring in a regular salary, but Price didn't have to be totally excluded, as the movie implies, from the world he obviously loved.



    At this point, I pulled out Powell's book and looked up A CANTERBURY TALE. He describes seeing Dennis Price on stage for the first time: "A tall slim young man... He had charm and elegance and a long, good-looking oval face with a long, sensitive upper lip. He was impudently well mannered."



    Fascinating to see Price before he developed the mannered character he put on for his later career. Even the structure of his face looks quite different from, say, KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS. In 1943, you could easily have imagined him becoming a romantic/dramatic/action star like Dirk Bogarde.

  5. #65
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    ... he still lived with his mother. It was a not too subtle way of saying that he was gay, as Eric Portman himself was.
    And yet... there seems an indication that by the end, Colpepper has fallen in love with the girl. And, if I read it correctly, she with him. Or, at least, they're starting to feel that way. Until she receives news that her long-lost fiance is alive. Portman is wonderful in that final shot of him as she passes with her fiance's father, and he knows he's lost her -- his one chance for personal happiness. Not even a close up, but Portman's face and body language beautifully indicate his grief and loss.



    ... it soon becomes a whydunnit rather than a whodunnit.
    Yet a considerable amount of screen time is devoted to the "whodunnit" investigation, with quite a few chatty exchanges, not to mention the Village idiot scene with the wonderful Esmond Knight. They don't bother me because they're well done, and the actors and sets and locations and photography are so evocative of another England, but I did have the sense sometimes of marking time, since we clearly know the Glueman's identity.



    Bob & Alison in the cart and of course the boys river battle. None of which really move the main plot on much, they're just there to let you appreciate those things.
    Exactly. The boys playing war games on the river -- it's a great scene (and I wouldn't lose it), but it doesn't contribute to "whydunnit." I suspect audiences at the time felt they just weren't being given enough story or character development.



    ... it all comes good in the end with the pilgrims confronting Colpeper on the train into Canterbury where the most telling exchange is when Alison asks if he'd ever thought of inviting the girls to his lecture as well. When he says he hadn't she just says "Pity" and that's what he finishes up doing. You see the couples going to the lecture under the final credits.
    Wonderful scene. All four actors playing off each other just right. The relationships between Colpepper and the girl, and with Price, are so beautifully done. I even thought Price had decided not to turn him in, so it was a surprise for me to see him later searching for the police.



    (In the restored version I saw, the final credits are over a low-angle shot of the boys playing football.)



    ... it was a bit of an obscure tale and Micky Powell said that he didn't really do justice to Emeric's story. He was too busy showing off the landscape where he grew up.
    Good point. Powell is often given so much credit for the films, that we sometimes forget that many of them came straight out of Pressburger's head. A CANTERBURY TALE, English as it is, represents his beliefs and sensibilities more than Powell's. Pressburger even said, I think, that it was "entirely" his.



    It wasn't too well received at the time.
    I suspect the casting of the American was a big problem for audiences. He's very appealing -- Sweet is the perfect name -- but he was a total unknown, and he doesn't do much in the way of classic leading man behavior. He also -- and I hate to say this -- comes across just a little as a cliche American. His dialogue is peppered with cartoon words and phrases. I mentally flinched every time he says "Darn it," "Pop," "check," "nuts," "you bet," "Gee," "Holy smoke," "Swell," "Holy cat," "you bet," "Say," etc. There's a lot of that stuff. Not Sweet's fault -- he's written that way -- and much credit to him for overcoming some of P&P's more simplistic instincts when it comes to portraying Americans.



    ... nowadays, we do have more time to stand and stare and the film is usually very well appreciated whenever it's shown.
    Amen to that.

  6. #66
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Waahooo Christmas morning and whats in my stocking - The Criterion DVD and Paul Trittons Book - What a Christmas morning. Now all I need to do is find out when the next walk is and convince my wife we need another holiday in Kent! (we missed the 2003 walk by a week when we last visited the garden of England!)



    Hope you all have a good holiday



    Ben
    The walks are always on August bank holiday Sunday.

    That's the weekend when the film was set (& some of it was filmed on that weekend in 1943).

    Everyone that is going away goes away on the Friday or Saturday and comes back on the Monday so the traffic on the Sunday isn't too bad.

    Keep an eye on the PaPAS website or join the P&P email list for more details as we get closer.



    Steve

  7. #67
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    A lovely film. I did have one question, though -- perhaps our military experts can answer it.

    Dennis Price's character is clearly upper class. His whole manner and speech suggests it. Ian Christie on the commentary track notes it, as have several critics. Yet he's a sergeant, not an officer. I'm probably too influenced by more traditional movie sergeants like Harry Andrews and William Hartnett and Jack Watson, but it did seem that Price was too much a toff to excercise the kind of close-quarters authority over mostly working class privates that was required of sergeants in the British Army...
    Even by the start of WWII the British Army wasn't as class bound as it was in the first world war. Everyone had to join as a regular soldier. Some worked their way up to be NCOs, some to be officers, regardless of their "position" in society before it all started. Quite a few "toffs" had a head start because they had been part of the CCF (Combined Cadet Force) at public school so they already had some military training.



    I think the authority they commanded depended on the man in charge, not his position in society.



    The RAF was still quite snobbish. They had separate messes for flight sergeants and for other flying officers. Even though a flight sergeant could be in charge of a nominally higher ranking officer in a bomber.



    Steve

  8. #68
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    ... he still lived with his mother. It was a not too subtle way of saying that he was gay, as Eric Portman himself was.
    And yet... there seems an indication that by the end, Colpepper has fallen in love with the girl. And, if I read it correctly, she with him. Or, at least, they're starting to feel that way. Until she receives news that her long-lost fiance is alive. Portman is wonderful in that final shot of him as she passes with her fiance's father, and he knows he's lost her -- his one chance for personal happiness. Not even a close up, but Portman's face and body language beautifully indicate his grief and loss.[/quote]Is Colpeper begining to realise that women have something to offer that he might be interested in? Who's to say if it's actually physical? Until he meets Alison he's dismissed them all. He trys it with Alison but through the course of the film he realises that she's the one most in tune with his own ideas. Although he does seem to miss the point of her "pity" comment in the train.



    When they're sitting in the grass they are photographed to appear to be closer than they actually are. The angle makes it looks like Alison is almost resting her head on his shoulder. They're actually sitting a respectable distance apart :



    The final look from Colpeper in the Cathedral is beautifully done.



    ... it soon becomes a whydunnit rather than a whodunnit.
    Yet a considerable amount of screen time is devoted to the "whodunnit" investigation, with quite a few chatty exchanges, not to mention the Village idiot scene with the wonderful Esmond Knight. They don't bother me because they're well done, and the actors and sets and locations and photography are so evocative of another England, but I did have the sense sometimes of marking time, since we clearly know the Glueman's identity.
    We know who the glueman is. But the 3 pilgrims don't.

    But the whole glueman thing could be regarded as a bit of a McGuffin and a distraction from the main point of the film which is to show people what they were fighting for and what they should try not to lose when it's all over.



    Bob & Alison in the cart and of course the boys river battle. None of which really move the main plot on much, they're just there to let you appreciate those things.
    Exactly. The boys playing war games on the river -- it's a great scene (and I wouldn't lose it), but it doesn't contribute to "whydunnit." I suspect audiences at the time felt they just weren't being given enough story or character development.
    That whole river battle was cut from the first American release.

    But now it's regarded as one of the best parts of the film.

    Audiences change



    ... it all comes good in the end with the pilgrims confronting Colpeper on the train into Canterbury where the most telling exchange is when Alison asks if he'd ever thought of inviting the girls to his lecture as well. When he says he hadn't she just says "Pity" and that's what he finishes up doing. You see the couples going to the lecture under the final credits.
    Wonderful scene. All four actors playing off each other just right. The relationships between Colpepper and the girl, and with Price, are so beautifully done. I even thought Price had decided not to turn him in, so it was a surprise for me to see him later searching for the police.



    (In the restored version I saw, the final credits are over a low-angle shot of the boys playing football.)
    The scenes behind the credits have the boys playing football and the couples going to the lecture.



    ... it was a bit of an obscure tale and Micky Powell said that he didn't really do justice to Emeric's story. He was too busy showing off the landscape where he grew up.
    Good point. Powell is often given so much credit for the films, that we sometimes forget that many of them came straight out of Pressburger's head. A CANTERBURY TALE, English as it is, represents his beliefs and sensibilities more than Powell's. Pressburger even said, I think, that it was "entirely" his.
    As Michael Powell grew up around there you'd think it would be more his film, but in a lot of ways it is more Emeric's.

    And you should never forget the contribution that Emeric made. Micky certainly never did. But Powell was more the "front man" and critics always found it difficult to understand a collaborative partnership like P&P.

    Emeric wrote the screenplay in close collaboration with Micky. But all the films from Contraband (1940) to A Matter of Life and Death (1946) plus The Red Shoes (1948) were all from Emeric's original stories. Emeric also acted as the producer more than Micky did, keeping eveyone happy. Emeric was also involved in the editing, especially the selection of the music - he was a musician as well as a writer. And because the whole cast and crew had usually worked together quite a lot they all acted in a collaborative way. If anyone had any suggestions about changes they were usually listened to. If something wasn't working as well as they hoped or if someone had another idea it could be incorporated. Their "final shooting scripts" rarely reflect what we see on screen. And with all these late changes, Emeric was often on set or close at hand to make sure that it fitted neatly into the whole story.



    It wasn't too well received at the time.
    I suspect the casting of the American was a big problem for audiences. He's very appealing -- Sweet is the perfect name -- but he was a total unknown, and he doesn't do much in the way of classic leading man behavior. He also -- and I hate to say this -- comes across just a little as a cliche American. His dialogue is peppered with cartoon words and phrases. I mentally flinched every time he says "Darn it," "Pop," "check," "nuts," "you bet," "Gee," "Holy smoke," "Swell," "Holy cat," "you bet," "Say," etc. There's a lot of that stuff. Not Sweet's fault -- he's written that way -- and much credit to him for overcoming some of P&P's more simplistic instincts when it comes to portraying Americans.
    It was partly the way it was written, but John Sweet really is like that. He was playing himself to quite a large extent. He certainly didn't exaggerate his normal accent.

    I have more trouble with the wheelwright's accent and idiom. "Well so do us". Nobody in the Canterbury area had spoken like that for 300 years



    ... nowadays, we do have more time to stand and stare and the film is usually very well appreciated whenever it's shown.
    Amen to that.

  9. #69
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    Even by the start of WWII the British Army wasn't as class bound as it was in the first world war. Everyone had to join as a regular soldier. Some worked their way up to be NCOs, some to be officers, regardless of their "position" in society before it all started. Quite a few "toffs" had a head start because they had been part of the CCF (Combined Cadet Force) at public school so they already had some military training.



    I think the authority they commanded depended on the man in charge, not his position in society.



    The RAF was still quite snobbish. They had separate messes for flight sergeants and for other flying officers. Even though a flight sergeant could be in charge of a nominally higher ranking officer in a bomber.



    Steve
    Very interesting and informative, Steve -- thanks for that.

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    I have more trouble with the wheelwright's accent and idiom. "Well so do us". Nobody in the Canterbury area had spoken like that for 300 years
    I wondered about that myself, but love it anyway. My cousin married a farmer about an hour north of London in Herts. He and everyone else on the farm speak good grammatical English better than I do!



    Nice to see you in the "extras" of A CANTERBURY TALE, Steve. I always feel a lovely buzz when I'm standing in a famous location, like Monument Valley or outside the SHADOW OF DOUBT house in Santa Rosa or the SHANE cabins in the Grand Tetons. Following in the footsteps of P&P across the English countryside sounds perfect...

  11. #71
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    It was partly the way it was written, but John Sweet really is like that. He was playing himself to quite a large extent. He certainly didn't exaggerate his normal accent.
    Also, don't forget that Sweet's dialogue had been rewritten from PnP's draft by the first choice casting for Bob Johnson, Burgess Meredith...to make it sound more authentically 1940's American.

  12. #72
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    (I'm wandering thru older posts...)



    Pen, I didn't realize Burgess Meredith was considered. An interesting choice.

  13. #73
    Member Country: UK Ealingfilmfan's Avatar
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    Steve I appreciate the time you took to explain the film to me. I think I am with it now. I plan to watch it again soon with your erudite explanation in mine.



    I enjoyed the film (it is one of my father's favourites) but I was a little confused.



    Thanks again!


    Yes, thanks for that Steve, I have seen the film three or four times and still don't "get" it, but I do appreciate the beautiful English countryside and the Spitfire at the beginning....:-)



    I must try harder next time............

  14. #74
    Senior Member Country: UK Wee Sonny MacGregor's Avatar
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    Michael Henderson in yesterday's Daily Telegraph was not too enamoured of the Shane Meadows film "This is England", commenting "See it if you must, but take a towel because you might feel like having a shower afterwards to wash away the grime."



    He goes on to say:



    "There was another vision of England at the NFT last week, and it is not unreasonable to suggest that it will be delighting cinema audiences 100 years from now, which is not a claim many might make on behalf of the earnest Meadows. Michael Powell made A Canterbury Tale in 1944, during a rather more damaging war, and it remains one of that great director's finest films.

    Actually, the director's credits go jointly to Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the Hungarian Jew, who also co-wrote the film. "The Archers", as they were known, were responsible for making some of the most memorable English films. Think of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, I Know Where I'm Going, A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes as well as A Canterbury Tale. Such riches!

    What gives these films their distinction is a generosity that runs counter to the spirit of our age. There are two scenes of particular force in A Canterbury Tale: when a soldier, a cinema organist by profession, is permitted to play Onward, Christian Soldiers on the great organ of Canterbury Cathedral at a farewell service for a regiment that is going overseas; and when two characters, a man and a woman, are lost in a reverie on a hill overlooking the old city, imagining all the men and women who have, in centuries past, trod the same path and felt the same feelings.

    This is England all right, another England; a land perceived in terms of mythology, certainly, but all countries have mythologies. They cannot live without them.

    What is so revealing about Powell's glorious films is the debt they owed to Pressburger, one of those Hungarians, like Alexander Korda, Georg Solti and George Mikes, who wore his Englishness as comfortably as a light suit.

    It didn't trouble Pressburger, who had worked in Berlin and Paris before he reached London, one little bit to become English (he took citizenship in 1946). Nor did it trouble the other notable Middle European figures who contributed so much to English life in the last century. Ernst Gombrich of Vienna, the art historian, Nikolaus Pevsner of Leipzig, the architectural scholar, and the philosophers Isaiah Berlin of Riga, and Karl Popper, another Viennese, all ended up as knights of a realm to which they were happy to belong."

  15. #75
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    That's actually very selective and wide of the mark. He avoided mentioning The 49th Parallel which carried a similar message about fascism and contain moments of brutal violence towards minorities. Nazi's and neo-nazi's....

  16. #76
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Thanks for that. Nice to see Emeric getting some recognition for a change. Powell was always the first to say that he couldn't have done what he did without Emeric. But the auteur theory still makes it hard for many people to appreciate that film-making is a cooperative venture. Especially the way that The Archers did it.



    Emeric wrote original stories for the majority of the films they made together. He also acted as producer, soothing feathers ruffled by Michael, and he also assisted and made suggestions to the editor. Particularly as regards the music soundtrack as he was a musician himself.



    With the scripts, Emeric always knew what he wanted the characters to say, but sometimes he didn't know the correct idiom, so Micky often helped with that.



    Although Micky was the only director, Emeric was usually on the studio floor or close at hand so that if any last minute changes were made he was on hand to ensure that it fitted into the story properly. And there often were late changes on Archers films if something wasn't working as well as they wanted or if someone had a good idea it was discussed and was often incorporated.



    Archers films really were a cooperative venture by a team of people, who were all at the top of their game and had often been working together across quite a few films. And it was all done without much interference from the studio. They were trusted and just left to get on with it.



    Scorsese has described them as "Experimental film-makers working inside a totally commercial system"



    Steve

  17. #77
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    That's actually very selective and wide of the mark. He avoided mentioning The 49th Parallel which carried a similar message about fascism and contain moments of brutal violence towards minorities. Nazi's and neo-nazi's....
    But even 49P was slightly subversive in that it had one of the minorities killing one of the master race (shooting him on the sea-plane). And it also had a good Nazi as well as other good Germans (like the Hutterites)



    Steve

  18. #78
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    But even 49P was slightly subversive in that it had one of the minorities killing one of the master race (shooting him on the sea-plane). And it also had a good Nazi as well as other good Germans (like the Hutterites)



    Steve
    I would read the article first. I'll bet you £50 the author would have been up in arms had he been a reviewer circa the release of Peeping Tom. Conservative with a small c.

  19. #79
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    I would read the article first. I'll bet you £50 the author would have been up in arms had he been a reviewer circa the release of Peeping Tom. Conservative with a small c.
    Yes, but that was getting on for fifty years ago.



    Even the Telegraph has changed rather a lot in those fifty years. Why not try reading a copy? Of course it follows a conservative line (small "c") but not blindly, by any means.

    rgds

    Rob

  20. #80
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    For the record, the Daily Telegraph's release review was not as bad as some of the others..but they have to be seen to be believed.

    Daily Telegraph; 9th April 1960

    Review by Campbell Dixon

    Horrible Hobby

    The word for Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (Plaza, "X") is, quite simply, nasty. Its concern is, fashionably, with voyeurisme, the central character being a young man who likes to kill women while recording their reactions during the process with a cine-camera.

    His idea of a pleasant evening, apparently, is to play back the films thus obtained in his attic laboratory along with tape-recordings of intimate conversations and unpleasant episodes from his own childhood, thus getting up, I suppose, enough enthusiasm to go out and murder a new subject.

    As well as being as unpleasant as they come, the film is also silly, probability never being established, although those concerned would, no doubt, defend themselves by saying it is to be taken with a pinch of salt as a satire on the psychological sort of thriller.

    Some scenes finding their fun in the behaviour of film actresses and directors do, in fact, momentarily amuse. They arrive from the psychopath being employed as a camera-man at some film studios.

    It takes him some time to get the pretty stand-in (Moira Shearer) defunct in a trunk, but then he's ready to knock off one of the models he photographs in the nude as a hobby before he turns his attention to the girl down-stairs (Anna Massey)

    So it goes on towards his own suicide, with telling touches of sadism, masochism, voyeurism and the rest, all of which appear to be invoked just for the hell of it. Altogether a work of great "curiosity" as the book trade would say. Sick minds will be highly stimulated.





    This and the rest are at The Killer Reviews

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