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The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

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Powell & Pressburger - Frequently Asked Questions


3.1. The Unknown People
Because they didn't have the hour long credit list that modern Holywood films go in for, we often don't know who played some of the minor roles or the junior members of the crew.

When we do find these out I post them to the IMDb, so check out the entry for the appropriate film or person to see if it's already known.

An example is the black motorcyclist in Blimp. The American transport officer calls him Armstrong, Sister Jacqueline at the nunnery calls him Napoleon but there's no reference to anyone of that name in any cast list.

We finally found out that he's called Norris Smith and was a quite well known stage actor.

A few to start you off ...

  • Crown v. Stevens (1936)
    • Who played Joe, the scoundrel who ran away with Mamie, and the engagement ring?

  • The Edge of the World (1937)
    • Who played the Doctor that helped Ruth's baby?
    • Can any of the islanders be named?
      Yes, thanks to Dave Earl
      Edith Gray, appeared in Roo scene, (very last shot plucking wool from a sheep) Foula reel dance & Church service.
      Aggie Jean Gray, in Roo scene, Church service, Foula reel dance, baby arrival scene (Kniting in background) & The Ghost sequence when Andrew arrives at deserted crofts,(she is carrying a chair.)
      Peter Manson (the real one!) is sitting left of Finley Currie at the boat parliament scene, also he is in one of the boats at the cliff climb and in the Kirk for the service.
      John Gray is the old man with the beard who shakes hands with Niall MacGinnis at the pier also seen in the Boat Parliament scene.
      Dodie Isbister was in the Church service scene, Boat Parliament, climb scene (In one of the boats) & Pier scene when Andrew leaves.
      The young boy ringing the bell at the church scene who although uncredited in the movie was heard by John Laurie to be called 'James Andrew' was named Gerald Boyne, and the little girl seen toward the end of the movie at the evacuation scene with the cats & being carried on her mothers back in a basket was Jessamine Smith the School-teacher's daughter.
      I can add that the Doctor who attended Ruth's baby in Lerwick harbour was played by James Garrioch.

  • The Spy in Black (1939)
    • Who are the young newlyweds in the hotel at the beginning?
      Bernard Miles gives them the key from the hook marked "emergency" and says he may have to turn them out of the room shortly.
      The young husband is played by John Penrose [Thanks to Charles Barr]

  • 49th Parallel (1941)
    • Who were the real CBC & NBC announcers used for the newsflashes?
      We know about Eric Berry as one announcer & Stuart Latham as another but Bruce Eder in his commentary says that 2 real announcers were used as well.

  • An Airman's Letter to His Mother (1941)
    • Who played the mother?
      We never see her clearly, only from the back or in 1/4 profile.
    • Who spoke the introduction?
      The reading of the letter itself was by John Gielgud but there is a spoken introduction before that. It sounds like Michael Powell but I'd like confirmation.
      [I have had confirmation from Columba, it is Michael Powell speaking the introduction]
    • Who played the postman?
    • Which of Powell's dogs is that? :)

  • The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
    • Who are the rest of the soldiers in Spud's troop?
      One of them (Cpl Tommy Tucker) is Pat McGrath who plays Fred, the Dresser in The Volunteer (1944)
      When he decides who to take they reel off a list of names that should be familier because it includes various regulars from the crew of The Archers' films such as Bill Wall (electrician), Unsworth (Geoffrey?), Skeets (Kelly? - camera op on Edge of the World, 49th Parallel & The Queen's Guards).]
    • Spud's troops have a badge on their upper arm/shoulder. It looks suspiciously like an Archer's target.
    • Who played Roger Livesey's fat double in the steam bath. A lot of the shots are Roger in VERY clever make-up but the ones where you see him full length such as where he throws Spud into the bath are a double.

  • The Volunteer (1943)
    • Who was Bianca (non-speaking), the actress worried about her holiday in France?
    • Who was the call boy?
    • Who was Sally (non-speaking), Fred's young lady?
    • Who was Joan (non-speaking), Ralph Richardson's "niece"?

  • A Canterbury Tale (1944)

  • I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)
    • Who narrated the opening showing Joan's young life?
    • Who was Joan as a toddler & as a schoolgirl?
    • Who was Roger Livesey's double for the shots in Scotland?
    • Who are the singers at the Ceildhe? (and what are they singing?)
      They are members of the Glasgow Orpheus Choir, but who are the individuals?
      As to what they are singing, see The "Macaphee" song
    • Who narrated the legend of Catriona MacLaine and the curse?
      Torquil's Nanny, but who's was the voice?

  • A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
    • Who were the first set of jurors?
    • From the 2nd jury we only know the policeman (Tommy Duggan)
    • Who was the Frenchman who babbles away explaining how he was shot down and the restrained Englishman who listens intently (does he understand? It doesn't matter) and then replies "Oh, Bad luck old boy"
    • Who were the American girls?
      The redhead with "the legs"? The one who pointed out that Shakespere (sic) was spelt wrong & the one who replied "Who are you, his agent?"
    • Who were all the Americans at Lee Wood House?
      The ones rehearsing A Midsummer Night's Dream?
      The one with the ginger wig who brought the doughnuts?
    • Who were the rest of the Bomber crew with Bonar Colleano?
      As they walk through the door that we never see through - leading into heaven itself we assume and one of the city boys, who's been quite brash up until then says "Home was never like this" and the quiet country boy says in a lovely mid-west twang "Mine was" <sob>
    • Who was the naked goat herd?
    • Who was the pianist at Lee House playing the AMOLAD theme? That haunting piano progression? Allan Gray himself?
    • Who were the nurses in the operating theatre?
    • Who were the cricket commentator & the "rock & roller" on the radios?
      Was the cricket commentator E.W. Swanton? No, definitely not. He was a prisoner of the Japanese in Burma from 1944-46.
      The cricket commentator was Howard Marshall. [Thanks to Charles Barr]
      Many people have recorded Shoo Shoo Baby, I've listed some of them with links to examples.

  • Black Narcissus (1947)
    • Who were Clodagh's parents and grandmother in the Irish idyll
      Their names were mentioned on the backs of some of the studio 10x8 B&W stills that Columba has.
        Maxwell Foster played Clodagh's father
        Helen de Broy played Clodagh's mother
        Margaret Scudamore played Clodagh's grandmother
          She was also Colpeper's mother in ACT
    • Who played the mother of the baby that died.
    • Are any of the Indian cast members known apart from those credited?
      A few have since been named in this & ToB thanks to Stephen Bourne's book "Black in the British Frame" about black actors in early British films.
      Joan Cozier was "in the classroom" but which one? The one taught by Sister Ruth at Mopu or the class taught by Sister Clodagh at the main convent?

  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1955)
    • Who narrated it?
    • Who danced the other roles? The Sorcerer, the 2 cats, the bird (crow or owl), the broom (& the 2nd broom)?

  • Ill Met by Moonlight (1957)
    • Who played the dentist?
      Subsequently identified as Peter Augustine
    • John & Phyllia Houseman
      There are no end credits detailing who played which rôles. The opening credits only give the characters for the top few people. For all of the others they just give the actors' names. The list includes "John & Phyllia Houseman". Who were they? Who did they play? Were they brother & sister? Husband & wife? The IMDb doesn't list any other credits for either of them. Were they locals, brought in for this one film (bearing in mind that it wasn't actually filmed on Crete)

  • Peeping Tom (1960)
    • Who was the woman Dora and Mark pass on the stairs?
    • Who were the reporter and the "working girl" talking after the first killing? He says to her "Let me take your photograph".
    • Who was the young girl in Mr. Peters' shop who says "can I have a crunch please"? Powell mentions his niece, Cornelia Zulver in MDM as a possible cast member. Did she get the job?
      [No, both Columba & Kevin Powell say it's not her]
      [Update: David Absolom reports that she is in Peeping Tom, she's one of the girls in the crowded sports car that leaves the studio. She's the one that says she'd rather be there than on the bus. Cornelia is now known as Cornelia Frances and is best known in Australia as starchy Sister Scott in the "classic" Aussie soap Young Doctors or as the host of the Australian version of The Weakest Link.]


Remainder of FAQ Section 3