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  1. #161
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    name='Keechelus'] ....A minor fault: US Sgt Johnson (John Sweet) met his soul mates at a timber yard. They discussed how to cure green lumber until it was ready for use. My gripe: Sgt Johnson said he was from Oregon, and talked about oak and chestnut.



    Grr. Oregon is a western state that produces fir, pine and cedar - Pacific coast softwoods that are unlike British hardwoods. Their conversation would have been credible had Sweet's character been from Ohio or Pennsylvania.


    Yes, Keechelus - nicely observed from a fellow North American.



    I was also surprised when Johnson said he was from Oregon because of his speech, as he has the flat accent and rolling tempo of the midwest, with the slight twang found in the northern states near the Canadian border. But it doesn't really matter: he becomes a living symbol of the US.



    These are minor quibbles. ACT suspended belief to make important points, and sometimes focussed on tiny details for effect. "Oy, mister, are you a Sergeant? Yer stripes are wrong-way up!"



    That's right, USA chevrons are opposite to British stripes. That gave ACT a brief laugh.


    Yes - and it started the gentle banter between Johnson and the English that forms so much of the dialogue. There are so many examples of this. Very nice.



    In the end, A CANTERBURY TALE made its points well. The pilgramage was accidental for Sgt Johnson. He got off the train one station short of Canterbury. His new friends created a different life than he expected.



    When they got to Canterbury, each had their their own duty, but every one had been affected by their companions.


    Precisely. And this is the real plot of the film: the journey that appears to be haphazard and circumstantial, yet develops the inevitability of a calling. That is, literally, what legends are made of.



    Was this a flagwaver? Oh yeah. As seen in the search of bombed-flat Canterbury streets for an address lost in the rubble. British defiance was rightly shown in the signs "Messrs Smith & Watkins relocated to 140 Church Street" etc


    Indeed. Enormously moving.



    The sequence of Alison walking along the streets of Canterbury, and her observations, is as rich and telling in its own way as The Battle of Britain.

  2. #162
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    name='Steve Crook']It was Sheila Sim, not Sylvia Sims

    They both complain about being confused with each other



    Alison (Sheila Sim) is told about the previous attacks, then she talks to the girls that were attacked and with the help of Bob & Peter they find out who was doing it and why. Hardly "bugger all".



    But that's still only a distraction to the main story, a reason for the three "pilgrims" to work together. What it leads to and what they discover is the real point of the film



    Steve


    I feared the Sims mistake!

    Is it only Ms Sims and John Sweet who are surviving members?

    Also intruiged by Kathleen Lucas who towards end of film played "Passer-by" - her only film role - any more known about her?

  3. #163
    Senior Member Country: Canada
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    Thanks, TimR, for your thoughts.



    On first viewing last year, A CANTERBURY TALE was a nice little story. My wife thought so too and liked it. I have seen it twice since, and I am ready for another look. It may not become an obsession - but there is more to enjoy I believe.



    Damn you, Powell and Pressburger! I am cursed and blessed with five of your movies on DVD. I may spend my waning years watching PnP.

  4. #164
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='tali122']I feared the Sims mistake!
    Lots of others have made it as well



    Is it only Ms Sims and John Sweet who are surviving members?
    Of the leading adult players, yes. There are still a few of the boys who are still with us and some who appeared in smaller roles as well as some of the crew.



    David Todd (Commander Todd), Sheila Sim and Len Smith (General Leslie) in Canterbury Cathedral after a screening of the film. I caught Win Tamsitt, the widow of James Tamsitt (General Terry Holmes), looking over David's shoulder. Jimmy died in 1989.







    Also intruiged by Kathleen Lucas who towards end of film played "Passer-by" - her only film role - any more known about her?
    Not too much. it was her only film role. She was in charge of the WVS (Women's Voluntary service) in Canterbury and did various other volunteer work. Not just during the war but before and after it as well. She's just a typical example of the sort of lady that was (and is) the backbone of this country - and you have to love that accent



    Read Paul Tritton's book for more details, interviews with many of the people involved while they were still alive, details of locations and much more.



    Steve

  5. #165
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='MNP']Hi all,

    Sorry to stumble across this thread so late!

    I love the film. As a 10 year old moving to West Kent in 1968, I could still feel some of the charm of the old county portrayed in the film before it became commuter zone by the time I left in 1987.

    My old school friend from Sevenoaks who now lives in the States so enjoyed it when he was over, he sent me the US version with both endings and special programme of John Sweet returning to Canterbury around 2000. Great DVD!!

    Mark


    Not to mention that wonderful documentary A Canterbury Trail where we were filmed during our annual location walk



    The part of North East Kent around Canterbury is still remarkably like it was in 1944. OK, there are a lot more cars and TV aerials, but there are a lot of places there that are still recognisable from the film. Most of the big development and the commuter zone happened in the Medway area, up to and beyond Sevenoaks (which is down to about 2 oaks after the great storm of October 1987) and along the M2 between London and Dover.



    Canterbury itself has been "improved" and redeveloped (i.e. messed up) quite a few times, although there is still that big old church there. There are parts of Canterbury that haven't been touched for 3 or 4 hundred years.



    But the villages like Chilham, Fordwich, Wickhambreaux and many others are still lovely



    Steve

  6. #166
    Senior Member Country: Canada
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    " And they even made one in Canada as well ".



    Yes, and not just in Canada, but surprisingly about Canada. 49th PARALLEL explored some issues that Canada's wartime government was negligent in addressing, notably the loyalty of German-heritage farmers on our prairie. PnP's courage in showing a Hutterite community in Manitoba as loyal Canadians, despite their belief in opposition to military service, was a landmark in WW2-era movies, and is still a damn good statement today.

  7. #167
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    name='Keechelus']" And they even made one in Canada as well ".



    Yes, and not just in Canada, but surprisingly about Canada. 49th PARALLEL explored some issues that Canada's wartime government was negligent in addressing, notably the loyalty of German-heritage farmers on our prairie. PnP's courage in showing a Hutterite community in Manitoba as loyal Canadians, despite their belief in opposition to military service, was a landmark in WW2-era movies, and is still a damn good statement today.


    All of their wartime films were a bit out of the ordinary.



    First, none of them showed much fighting. They were about the effects of war on people, not about the guns and explosions and other things that many film-makers get side-tracked by.



    Secondly, unlike most propaganda films (from any period) they didn't condemn everyone in the nation we were fighting against. They had likeable and reasonable Germans even when we were fighting for our survival in a war against Germany. From Capt. Hardt in The Spy in Black, Vogel the baker in 49th Parallel and Theo Kretschmar-Schuldorff in Colonel Blimp. Some of these were even in the armed forces fighting against us, but they were shown to be human.



    Of course 49th Parallel was aimed at your neighbours to the South as much as to the Canadians. Showing them that their neutrality wouldn't keep them from being involved. It was released here in October 1941 but wasn't released in the USA until 1942 by which time they'd joined in anyway.



    Steve

  8. #168
    Senior Member Country: UK
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    A Canterbury Tale is an unusual but rewarding film. It shows imagination, expertise and an object lesson in photography. When I watch this film I always see something new(as in AMOLAD & Blimp) but more than that I see an England that is much changed. However, genius is timeless, and when you look at this film you see something magical and endearing.

  9. #169
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    " And they even made one in Canada as well ".
    Yes, and not just in Canada, but surprisingly about Canada. 49th PARALLEL explored some issues that Canada's wartime government was negligent in addressing, notably the loyalty of German-heritage farmers on our prairie. PnP's courage in showing a Hutterite community in Manitoba as loyal Canadians, despite their belief in opposition to military service, was a landmark in WW2-era movies, and is still a damn good statement today.
    That's a beautiful sequence, isn't it?



    That was the first Powell-Pressburger film I saw, without knowing anything about them. There is a marvelous moment after Eric Portman is giving what he assumes to be a rousing speech that will stir up the Hutterites - and it is followed by complete silence. It really is a superb scene that conveys so much.



    Glynis Johns is a charmer. And Anton Walbrook is entirely convincing as the opposite of the sophisticated aesthete he so often plays elsewhere.



    I saw it as a boy, and much of the film introduced me to parts of Canada that I did not know.



    I had been familiar with the maritimes because of its proximity to New England and my own family's attachment to Canada (both my parents were avid Canadaphiles) but knew little about the country west of Quebec (at that tme, that was also true of my own country. I had not traveled west of Pennsylvania) It serves as a sort of travelogue for the central provinces and parts of the pacific northwest.

  10. #170
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    A Canterbury Tale is an unusual but rewarding film. It shows imagination, expertise and an object lesson in photography. When I watch this film I always see something new(as in AMOLAD & Blimp) but more than that I see an England that is much changed. However, genius is timeless, and when you look at this film you see something magical and endearing.
    Magical and endearing and genius are all apt words. The film never fails to move me from the opening credits.



    I have attempted to analyze its effect and have succeeded only in part. They really were magicians.

  11. #171
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    That's a beautiful sequence, isn't it?

    That was the first Powell-Pressburger film I saw, without knowing anything about them. There is a marvelous moment after Eric Portman is giving what he assumes to be a rousing speech that will stir up the Hutterites - and it is followed by complete silence. It really is a superb scene that conveys so much.



    Glynis Johns is a charmer. And Anton Walbrook is entirely convincing as the opposite of the sophisticated aesthete he so often plays elsewhere.
    Also noticeable is that when Hirth (Portman) gives the Nazi salute at the end of his rant, the other submariners jump to their feet. Two of them also give the Nazi salute - but Vogel (Niall MacGinnis), the nice Nazi, doesn't salute



    Anton's rebuttal of Portman's speech is wonderful. It has elements of the passion he puts into the "Miss Page will not dance tonight" speech at the end of The Red Shoes



    Steve

  12. #172
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Also noticeable is that when Hirth (Portman) gives the Nazi salute at the end of his rant, the other submariners jump to their feet. Two of them also give the Nazi salute - but Vogel (Niall MacGinnis), the nice Nazi, doesn't salute



    Anton's rebuttal of Portman's speech is wonderful. It has elements of the passion he puts into the "Miss Page will not dance tonight" speech at the end of The Red Shoes



    Steve
    Agreed - all of those small details stayed with me, and it has been many years since I saw it. Walbrook's intensity matches and really surpasses Portman's, but it stays under the surface for so much of the film. When I saw him in The Red Shoes, he was literally unrecognizable, but as you say, the intensity is the same.

  13. #173
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    There seems to be quite a bit of bewilderment on this thread regarding the "Glue Man" subplot.



    I recall reading somewhere that, in Pressburger's original story, the character was to rip womens' skirts / dresses but due to the sexual connotations this was changed to the "glue attacks".

  14. #174
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    There seems to be quite a bit of bewilderment on this thread regarding the "Glue Man" subplot.



    I recall reading somewhere that, in Pressburger's original story, the character was to rip womens' skirts / dresses but due to the sexual connotations this was changed to the "glue attacks".
    Not quite a bit, but some. All of the glue man stuff is really a classic McGuffin. It's not at all important to the real story they're telling. But some people do get "stuck" on it



    You're right in what you read. The original idea was to have Colpeper slash the girls' dresses. But that was thought to be in dubious taste, even for an Archers film. So instead they decided to just have him deposit some sticky stuff in their hair - much more tasteful



    Steve

  15. #175
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    Not quite a bit, but some. All of the glue man stuff is really a classic McGuffin. It's not at all important to the real story they're telling. But some people do get "stuck" on it



    You're right in what you read. The original idea was to have Colpeper slash the girls' dresses. But that was thought to be in dubious taste, even for an Archers film. So instead they decided to just have him deposit some sticky stuff in their hair - much more tasteful



    Steve
    I actually think it's quite an important subplot, not just a McGuffin!



    If I remember correctly the motive behind the "Glue Man"'s actions was to try to dissuade young women with chaps in the armed forces from going out late at night, and thus avoid the temptation of straying...



    If P&P had been able to stick to their original story, this subplot would be far more credible (i.e. women not going out at night in fear of a serial pervert (perfectly natural!) rather than a man who attacks women with pots of glue (a bit absurd!))

  16. #176
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    I actually think it's quite an important subplot, not just a McGuffin!



    If I remember correctly the motive behind the "Glue Man"'s actions was to try to dissuade young women with chaps in the armed forces from going out late at night, and thus avoid the temptation of straying...



    If P&P had been able to stick to their original story, this subplot would be far more credible (i.e. women not going out at night in fear of a serial pervert (perfectly natural!) rather than a man who attacks women with pots of glue (a bit absurd!))
    Colpeper's motive was to make the girls afraid of going out with soldiers so that the soldiers would come to his lectures. He meant no harm to the girls, he just didn't consider their feelings.



    Pure McGuffin



    Steve

  17. #177
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    A beautiful film.



    I have said this several times on this site, but I have been watching it just now and want to say it again, and this site is the place for it.



    Each time I am impressed again by some new aspect. This time it's the marvelous score by Allan Gray.



    I have not watched this dry-eyed yet and I have seen it about twenty times. Just beautiful.

  18. #178
    Senior Member Country: England Santonix's Avatar
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    I couldn't agree more. A wonderful film. Allan Gray's score is just perfect.



    I shall be making my second pilgrimage to Canterbury later this summer to explore and look at more of the film locations used.

  19. #179
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain
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    name='HUGHJAMPTON']Got this lined up for viewing tonight. Only my second time though, but it's one to watch again and again


    Everyone, this film can be addictive. Its a detective story, a love story, just something for everyone. I found the caravan scene very poignant for some reason. Like one is uncovering the marvel of life itself, or at least one's heritage.

  20. #180
    Senior Member Country: United States TimR's Avatar
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    Yes. I was overwhelmed by this film the first time I saw it, and I am indebted to this forum for all of the information and commentary that led me to buy the DVD.



    I have had that experience very rarely - only three or four times in all my forty-plus years of watching films.

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