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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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Submitted by: Terry Hanstock

Spotted in a recent issue of The Denver Post ...

Indulge in films of a dynamic British duo
I Know Where I'm Going! starts Starz tribute

By Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post Film Critic

Monday, January 10, 2005 -

A baby crawls with purpose across a floor.

A sonorous, wry voice introduces the infant as Joan. And as the production credits for Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) appear in the most clever of places, Joan marches into adulthood.

When the sequence ends, our headstrong heroine who - you got it, knows where she's going - is calling her button-down father "darling" and announcing to him that she's marrying one of Britain's wealthiest industrialists.

She's off to the western isles of Scotland and her wedding - weather permitting. Turns out, it doesn't. Waylaid, Joan (played with wonderful will by Wendy Hiller, later Dame Wendy Hiller) waits in the fine company of one Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey). As she impatiently sits out the weather, her certainty about her destination is, well. ...

Thursday evening, we know where you're going, or at least where you should be headed.

I Know Where I'm Going! begins the Starz FilmCenter's four-film series Powell & Pressburger: 100 Years, celebrating one of Britain's and filmdom's most dynamic duos: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

"You mean the tall, angular upper-class Brit and the short, round, Hungarian Jew, who somehow together figured out England?" says a joking Howie Movshovitz, director of education at the FilmCenter. He programmed the series, which honors the 100-year anniversary of Powell's birth. "They have a lock on understanding what the English are like."

The two, and their production company, Archers, contributed mightily to British film's Golden Age.

In addition to the Hiller-Livesey charmer, the series of archive prints includes A Matter of Life and Death (1946), starring David Niven as a pilot who must argue for his life in heaven; the rarely seen A Canterbury Tale (1944), about a wartime interaction in a English village; and the 1947 stunner Black Narcissus, shot by Jack Cardiff and designed by Alfred Junge. Each received Oscars for his work.

In Black Narcissus, Deborah Kerr stars as Sister Clodagh, a young too-superior sister given the task of converting a rundown palace high in the Himalayas into a school and infirmary. The air is thin, the mood at the palace increasingly strange. David Farrar plays Mr. Dean, a prickly, astute Brit who doesn't much believe in the nun's mission and tends to show up in shorts, baring long, muscular legs. Kathleen Byron plays the unhinged Sister Ruth.

With a couple of exceptions, all the scenes were shot at the Pinewood Studios. Fabulous constructed vistas, the filmmakers' amazing use of early Technicolor and emotions as brazen as the movie's hues make Black Narcissus a marvel.

"With Cardiff and Junge," says Movshovitz, "I'd be happy to argue Black Narcissus is the greatest special-effects movie ever made."

Film critic Lisa Kennedy can be reached at 303-820-1567 or

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