Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 25

Thread: Peeping Tom

  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Posts
    4,515
    Liked
    243 times
    From The Times, Eye Magazine today. Written by Brian Case.



    MICHAEL POWELL MADE THE DARKEST MASTERPIECE OF HIS CAREER WITH PEEPING TOM

    The screenwriter Emeric Pressburger and the director Michael Powell had made a series of masterpieces together, but without Pressburger. Powell had fallen on hard times. Leo Marks, a former Head of Coding in the British Secret Service, approached the great man with his script for Peeping Tom. "I told It to him, shot by shot. At the end he looked at me in silence. So I thought, right, I've made a mess of that, I'll try another." He outlined a second and a third, still without response, and got up to leave. "My dear chap," said Powell. "My voice is In my throat. Sit down. They're all mine!"

    A thriller about a serial killer who films his victims, and who befriends and then terrorises a blind woman, it

    was uncharted territory for Powell, and scandalised contemporary audiences.

    The picture was shot in five weeks on a low budget, financed by a small company inspired by the success of the Hammer horrors. Powell wanted Dirk Bogarde or Laurence Harvey for the lead, but had to settle for the unknown German actor Carl Boehm.

    The director had the reputation of a bully. Anna Massey found him "quite fearsome in a way. He had the ability to make you feel quite uncomfortable." But Maxine Audley played the blind woman and found him unusually courteous. "You look as blind as a tree stump. I've nothing to show you," he said. Powell himself was criticised for playing the sadistic

    scientist father to his own son in the terrifying home-movie sequences. "My son understood what we were doing. I explained it all to him, and he enjoyed joining in." Marks's view was mixed. "Michael Powell was the best director for Peeping Tom. He wasn't the best director of Michael Powell... a giant talent with a pygmy generosity."

    Pamela Green, Britain's foremost 1950s nude, played a pin-up: "I would like to have made one well-photographed, well-scripted film featuring the nude body. In one scene with Carl Boehm I was totally nude, beautifully lit by Otto Heller. The recut version left just a glimpse of me."

    BRIAN CASE

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: England noglea's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    139
    Liked
    0 times
    I remember when Leo Marks appeared on a 'Peeping Tom' documentary a while back he mentioned that he was going to write a new film script but I don't know if he completed it before his death.

  3. #3
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    29,732
    Liked
    418 times
    Originally posted by noglea@Apr 24 2005, 11:40 PM

    I remember when Leo Marks appeared on a 'Peeping Tom' documentary a while back he mentioned that he was going to write a new film script but I don't know if he completed it before his death.
    Not the one he was talking about in the documentary. He didn't publish all the code poems he wrote either. Although The Life That I Have was published in a nice little book illustrated by his wife.



    He did write (or co-wrote) a few other film scripts, see his IMDb listing. But none of the others had the power of Peeping Tom.



    Steve

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    7
    Liked
    0 times
    I simply love Michael Powell's "Peeping Tom".



    It is showing on the big screen soon at The Greenwich Picturehouse.



    What do other people think of the film?



    Ian

  5. #5
    Senior Member Country: United States
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    1,579
    Liked
    0 times
    The lighting in this picture makes even the most muted colors - walls, dark overcoats - seem garish and almost painful to watch, I find. It's almost like always being in the dark and having the lights turned on ultra-bright. I find myself wincing at all of the blatant use (mis-use?) of the chosen colors.



    I think I'm more awed at Powell's sets because of his expert use of tonal B&W in other films, and the muted tapestry of colors BLIMP. When he wants to set a tone, he seems equally adept in any film-subject.

  6. #6
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    29,732
    Liked
    418 times
    The lighting in this picture makes even the most muted colors - walls, dark overcoats - seem garish and almost painful to watch, I find. It's almost like always being in the dark and having the lights turned on ultra-bright. I find myself wincing at all of the blatant use (mis-use?) of the chosen colors.

    I think I'm more awed at Powell's sets because of his expert use of tonal B&W in other films, and the muted tapestry of colors BLIMP. When he wants to set a tone, he seems equally adept in any film-subject.
    That's the difference between Technicolor (Blimp, Red Shoes, Black Narcissus etc.) and the Eastman Color that Peeping Tom was filmed in, and the (poor) quality of most prints. Even the first major re-relase ("Presented by Martin Scorsese") is still quite poorly colour balanced.

    The recent DVD from Optimum has a much better colour balance. It is still fairly garish in places, but only where it's meant to be. That DVD has a good commentary track by Prof Ian Christie and a documentary that interviews Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese, Columba Powell, Karlheinz Böhm (a rare appearance talking about his work on the film and its effect on him) and academics Ian Christie and Laura Mulvey.



    It's coded for Region 2 but I would say it's even better than the Criterion DVD as regards the film itself. But the Criterion DVD also has the A Very British Psycho documentary with Leo Marks. So you'll have to buy all of them :



    Steve

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: United States
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    1,579
    Liked
    0 times
    Actually, I think the garish colors fit well. I think the subject matter is meant to cause some wincing and shuttering of eyes, and the garishness works well to remind us that not everything can be muted over or toned down, as if blending into the background is the purpose of the film. It's a film that exposes, and the garishness of colors - and evidently the consequent choice of film-color photography, is well-understood by Powell and obviously effective in use. He's a craftsman that either knows the tools at his disposal, or knows the cinematographers who can deliver those hues on-screen and leaves the tool-choices up to them.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Country: United States
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    1,579
    Liked
    0 times
    The tricky part of coloring, lighting and photog'ing must be how the final product - on the big screen - must look.



    We've all seen examples where up-close-and-personal pixels may be one color, but a big-screen or different monitors, much less different printers, all contribute to make for other-than-expected colorations.



    Then to imagine what different big-screen materials must do, what different projector bulbs (and models of projectors themselves) - it must seem quite daunting. Yet Powell musters thru it with picture after picture that seems so well lit and colored. PEEPING is a perfect story for B&W, I'd have thought. Absolutely NO REASON for color.



    Yet, to use such garishness, instead of soft, comforting, soothing tones (aww, how sweet!), I can't help but wonder how many generations this project took in his head before deciding to use THAT kind of colorings. Everything COULD have been done in darks and harsh lighting, shadows and softer whites but instead, we get THIS splattered in front of us. A fascinating choice by Powell, I think.

  9. #9
    Member Country: UK
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    29
    Liked
    0 times
    Disturbing but fascinating film....I saw this for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I'm glad I watched it, a very original idea and well-acted too.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    9,605
    Liked
    151 times
    Peeping Tom, pornography and the press

    The film's depiction of pornography, as a flourishing adjunct to the 'respectable' worlds of cinema and newspapers, was what really shocked in 1960

    This week sees the 50th anniversary re-release of Michael Powell's 1960 film Peeping Tom, about a serial killer obsessed with filming his victims' final moments, armed with a camera-tripod leg sharpened to a point. It's a moment to reflect, once again, on the amazing story of how a group of London film critics, convulsed by hysterical hostility and group rage, panicked the industry into withdrawing the film and scuppering Powell's career. Incredibly, they appeared to do to this what Winston Churchill could not manage in 1942 with Powell's planned Colonel Blimp film, with all the wartime powers of censorship at his disposal. It is a much rehashed story, but I think one that shows how the meaning of Peeping Tom is still not entirely understood.

    My colleague John Patterson has written an incisive critique of the reviewers' abysmal unanimity, and interestingly suggests that it may have arisen from the ostentatious walk-out of the Observer's CA Lejeune during the press screening. The other, male, critics may have been driven by a combination of gallantry or a timidly macho need not to be out-outraged by a woman journalist or indeed a general sense that the "moral crisis" of Peeping Tom was the sensational story being prepared by rival papers, and their editors would be mightily annoyed if they failed to compete. The late Alexander Walker however, in an article published 10 years ago, blamed industry politics, not the critics, for Peeping Tom's demise.

    Since that time, a quite different critical consensus has grown up: that Peeping Tom is a masterpiece because it is about the sinister, neurotic, destructive element in the act of filming and in cinema itself. And indeed it is. But it is also about something else which the press hysteria inadvertently demonstrated.

    Peeping Tom was about porn, a subject broached explicitly yet casually � an act of taboo-busting far more sensational than the lavatory glimpsed in Psycho. More than this, it is about the way porn is a hidden, flourishing adjunct to the notionally respectable worlds of cinema and, specifically, the newspaper industry. Powell's serial killer exists in the hypocritical half-light between these worlds. The grippingly horrible opening scene, in which the seedy newsagent, whose proprietor provides a tacky studio for this under-the-counter trade, shows a respectable gentleman wheedling for dirty pictures, and shows how Times and Telegraph readers � and later cinephile Sight & Sound readers � could also be greedy porn enthusiasts, and how a creepy guy with a camera could easily pass himself off as an Observer photographer.

    I suspect this confrontational social satire � now critically overlooked in favour of the deconstructionist readings of voyeurism, cinema and the male gaze in Peeping Tom � is what triggered the press furore. After all, the London film reviewers, then as now, would have gone to their screenings in Soho, the site for the film's first murder in Newman Passage, just a few minutes away from where I go to press screenings. Today, Soho has cleaned up its act � a bit � but then it was the sleazy, nasty world that the reviewers would stalk through on their way to the press showings, and the tiny screening rooms still look a bit like the old pre-video porn cinemas. And Powell was suggesting that it was not merely mainstream cinema that was a cousin to porn and exploitation, but mainstream newspapers as well, sharing a retail outlet as well as a salacious attitude in their lip-smacking "marmalade dropper" divorce reports and lurid crime stories.

    Like his serial killer, Michael Powell held up a mirror to his newspaper audience and they were duly freaked out. The satirical spike in Peeping Tom shouldn't be forgotten.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    6,472
    Liked
    120 times
    Quote Originally Posted by DB7 View Post
    Peeping Tom, pornography and the pressLike his serial killer, Michael Powell held up a mirror to his newspaper audience and they were duly freaked out. The satirical spike in Peeping Tom shouldn't be forgotten.
    For some reason I was thinking exactly this sort of thing today, so I sought out this Thread to see if someone alse had thought of this *allegory*.... and [of course] they have..........

    However, did Michael Powell or Leo Marks think of this aspect I wonder? Or were they just making a movie? Only for others to *interpret* it.......

    My own dimming but still bright memories of this film are the curious fact that the female lead was not very pretty [subjective I know, but surely true in the movie idol sense], whereas the man was. The woman did not scream and run very much, even at the very end, like the classical scary movie expects, and the strangest thing of all was that the most frightening thing in the movie was not the overt murdering and attacks of the primary plot in whatever colour, but the torture in black and white of the little boy by his father all those years before.

    Questions are a burden and I wonder if there are any answers.


  12. #12
    GRAEME
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Moor Larkin View Post
    For some reason I was thinking exactly this sort of thing today, so I sought out this Thread to see if someone alse had thought of this *allegory*.... and [of course] they have..........

    However, did Michael Powell or Leo Marks think of this aspect I wonder? Or were they just making a movie? Only for others to *interpret* it.......
    I think film-makers this sophisticated could be relied on to have thought that through for themselves!

    Quote Originally Posted by Moor Larkin View Post
    My own dimming but still bright memories of this film are the curious fact that the female lead was not very pretty [subjective I know, but surely true in the movie idol sense], whereas the man was.
    I personally find Anna Massey very attractive - but I know what you mean.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    6,472
    Liked
    120 times
    Quote Originally Posted by GRAEME View Post
    I think film-makers this sophisticated could be relied on to have thought that through for themselves!
    Speedlearning what I've read here [and mostly here] about the nature of the two P's though, there could be a suspicion that Powell was such a hard-edged man that he just never saw the reaction coming and was even unaware of the way he might be seen to be biting at the world around him. I gather he had very little to say afterwards about what he did or didn't intend. I'm not sure how much Mr. Marks would have appreciated how his script would *look* in pictures, rather than words.

    Quote Originally Posted by GRAEME View Post
    I personally find Anna Massey very attractive - but I know what you mean.
    I did read elsewhere that Powell had to fight for her to be the actress, as the producer thought her the wrong choice, which possibly indicates something.

    I first watched this on TV sometime in the 1970's, in black and white throughout and it seemed a remarkably unusual film to me then, and certainly always stuck in my minds-eye, but I don't recall any great fuss being made over it at that time.


  14. #14
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    29,732
    Liked
    418 times
    Quote Originally Posted by Moor Larkin View Post
    Speedlearning what I've read here [and mostly here] about the nature of the two P's though, there could be a suspicion that Powell was such a hard-edged man that he just never saw the reaction coming and was even unaware of the way he might be seen to be biting at the world around him. I gather he had very little to say afterwards about what he did or didn't intend. I'm not sure how much Mr. Marks would have appreciated how his script would *look* in pictures, rather than words.
    What do you mean by "hard edged" in that context?
    He knew the risks he was taking, but he was willing to take them.
    Powell had lots to say about it afterwards. But he never blamed anyone for the results. He accepted that if you go out on a limb then someone might saw the branch off behind you

    Steve

  15. #15
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    6,472
    Liked
    120 times
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook View Post
    What do you mean by "hard edged" in that context?
    Hard-edged in that he would make decisions about what he wanted and how he saw the piece and then would pursue it, perhaps so single-mindedly that he wouldn't sense how it might be perceived/interpreted by others, it wouldn't even occur to him or perhaps if it did, then he would be even more determined to stick with his own vision.

    On Michael Powell and Peeping Tom
    ‘He was the most elegant man; he looked the country gentleman. But he was a demon director; he got exactly what he wanted and he never accepted anything that was false. He was intimidating, but he was very observant. That was good, because the more observant the director the better the performance you give.
    50th anniversary re-release of Peeping Tom - Anna Massey profile - News - Evri

    Some place else I read Moira Shearer saying something about how Powell would *needle* her on set, picking and picking until he was satisfied. I asumed her to be talking of her general experience of him, not just that film.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook View Post
    He knew the risks he was taking, but he was willing to take them.
    Powell had lots to say about it afterwards. But he never blamed anyone for the results. He accepted that if you go out on a limb then someone might saw the branch off behind you
    I obviously haven't studied his quotes at your length, but I have gained an impression of the P&P relationship being that Pressburger tended to ameliorate Powell's harsher approach and this made their team work as well as it did... (I would compare them to Clough and Taylor but you would have no idea what I was talking about... )

    I listened to one brief snippet with his later wife and she seemed to suggest he was a bit baffled by the reaction to peeping Tom, but accepted it without any great complaint - but that must have been some years after, when he had adjusted to life thereafter. In terms of the vilification in the press, he must have been startled, although the fact that the Trade reviews were supportive may have made him shrug [to himself] and rationalise it to: what do THEY [the press] know anyway.....

    I suppose my point is, that he did just not see any of it coming and it would make no sense that he would have deliberately provoked it - or at least crtainly that he never expected such an extreme reaction.

    The opening is just so very uncompromising with the coldness of the prostitute and I have a sense that the routine nature of her selling sex for �2 may have offended the sensibilities of the reviewing audience so much that they never really got over it - especially as the film continued to play games with ideas of right and wrong and justice and life being fair. It was all quite un-British certainly.

    Last edited by Moor Larkin; 16-06-11 at 10:22 AM.

  16. #16
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    29,732
    Liked
    418 times
    Quote Originally Posted by Moor Larkin View Post
    Hard-edged in that he would make decisions about what he wanted and how he saw the piece and then would pursue it, perhaps so single-mindedly that he wouldn't sense how it might be perceived/interpreted by others, it wouldn't even occur to him or perhaps if it did, then he would be even more determined to stick with his own vision.

    On Michael Powell and Peeping Tom
    ‘He was the most elegant man; he looked the country gentleman. But he was a demon director; he got exactly what he wanted and he never accepted anything that was false. He was intimidating, but he was very observant. That was good, because the more observant the director the better the performance you give.
    50th anniversary re-release of Peeping Tom - Anna Massey profile - News - Evri

    Some place else I read Moira Shearer saying something about how Powell would *needle* her on set, picking and picking until he was satisfied. I asumed her to be talking of her general experience of him, not just that film.

    I obviously haven't studied his quotes at your length, but I have gained an impression of the P&P relationship being that Pressburger tended to ameliorate Powell's harsher approach and this made their team work as well as it did... (I would compare them to Clough and Taylor but you would have no idea what I was talking about... )

    I listened to one brief snippet with his later wife and she seemed to suggest he was a bit baffled by the reaction to peeping Tom, but accepted it without any great complaint - but that must have been some years after, when he had adjusted to life thereafter. In terms of the vilification in the press, he must have been startled, although the fact that the Trade reviews were supportive may have made him shrug [to himself] and rationalise it to: what do THEY [the press] know anyway.....

    I suppose my point is, that he did just not see any of it coming and it would make no sense that he would have deliberately provoked it - or at least crtainly that he never expected such an extreme reaction.

    The opening is just so very uncompromising with the coldness of the prostitute and I have a sense that the routine nature of her selling sex for �2 may have offended the sensibilities of the reviewing audience so much that they never really got over it - especially as the film continued to play games with ideas of right and wrong and justice and life being fair. It was all quite un-British certainly.

    Dedicated to his art, even obsessively so. Yes, I would agree with that.

    He gave 100% to his films and he expected everyone else to do the same. Some people like working in that sort of atmosphere and came back to work with him time and time again knowing that the end result would be the best possible. Anyone who couldn't take that pressure or make that commitment was soon identified and kicked out.

    Moira never got on with Powell although other people on the set of all 3 films she made for him said that she was very friendly & seemed to be having a good time. but Moira said (some time afterwards) that she hated the whole experience

    As Thelma said in the interview Micky really was surprised at the reaction of the British critics and there's still a suspicion that they had been waiting to get him for some time. They all seem to be remarkably similar with a similar level of vitriol. They all took a little while after the press screening before they wrote those reviews. Collusion? Possibly

    But although he was surprised by the reaction, he didn't let it dishearten him. He never blamed them for what happened subsequently - it wasn't just due to the critical reaction to Peeping Tom

    But remember that it's not a horror film as some have tried to brand it. It's a psychological thriller. There are no real shocks and no real horror in it. You never see any of the girls getting killed. What it does is to make viewers feel uncomfortable, especially when they realise that they are being voyeurs as well. So how can they condemn Mark?

    Steve

  17. #17
    Senior Member Country: UK
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    1,386
    Liked
    7 times
    But although he was surprised by the reaction, he didn't let it dishearten him. He never blamed them for what happened subsequently - it wasn't just due to the critical reaction to Peeping Tom
    He didn't seem all that bothered in a Times interview that came out a couple of months afterwards (this is reproduced in one of the books about him although i forget which one).

    I'd like to go back to the Anna Massey point - I agree that physically she is an odd choice although I think she was cast because (as well as being cheap since she was relatively unknown) she has a kind of aura of naiviety about her which i think is what Powell was after. The character needs to be naive to go out with a man who keeps stroking his camera like it was his john thomas. She does seem however seem a bit too posh for her and her mother to be living as a tenant in rented accomodation with a shared toilet. Loads of posh types turn up to her birthday party at the begining. Maybe they were supposed to have fallen on hard times - no sign or mention of her dad. Why would Tony be trying to make a play for her if she doesn't have any money?

  18. #18
    Senior Member Country: England Elaine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    1,814
    Liked
    600 times
    You know, I have never seen the film peeping Tom. I have the others of Powell and Pressburger, and I am begining to wonder why I haven't made the effort to see this one. Has it ever been on tv? I know it wasn't well recieved on release.

  19. #19
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    29,732
    Liked
    418 times
    Quote Originally Posted by m35541 View Post
    I'd like to go back to the Anna Massey point - I agree that physically she is an odd choice although I think she was cast because (as well as being cheap since she was relatively unknown) she has a kind of aura of naiviety about her which i think is what Powell was after.
    She was also part of the "family" of The Archers, her old man having worked with P&P on a couple of films

    Steve

  20. #20
    Senior Member Country: Scotland
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    440
    Liked
    37 times
    What do other people think of the film?



    Ian
    Quite simply one of the best films this country has produced imo.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Peeping Tom
    By Steve Crook in forum Film Locations
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 07-11-11, 10:37 PM
  2. Peeping Tom Documentary
    By Windthrop in forum Radio Talk
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 14-11-10, 08:32 AM
  3. Peeping Tom
    By Russ in forum British Films and Chat
    Replies: 146
    Last Post: 19-07-10, 12:54 PM
  4. Peeping Tom, SE
    By nobby56 in forum Latest DVD Releases
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 30-03-07, 06:31 PM
  5. Peeping Tom
    By c.n.-tonfilm in forum Ask a Film Question
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 01-02-06, 07:18 PM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts