The Masters  
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.

A lot of the documents have been sent to me or have come from other web sites. The name of the web site is given where known. If I have unintentionally included an image or document that is copyrighted or that I shouldn't have done then please email me and I'll remove it.

I make no money from this site, it's purely for the love of the films.

[Any comments are by me (Steve Crook) and other members of the email list]

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From: Roger Mellor

Steve Crook wrote:

> In fact at one of them someone asked the
> killer question "Why do the people here
> like Powell (& Pressburger) films?" so
> I thought I'd ask you lot. We went around
> the room all giving a varied but interesting
> set of answers.

Some related questions which it would be interested to have your responses, which Tracey and Alan have answered already:

When did you first hear of PnP?

Was it before you saw any of their films?

What was the first PnP film you saw?

My answers:
- around 1949, before I could walk or talk........
- Yes
- Black Narcisssus on monochrome television around 1964. Even without the colour, I never forgot Kathleen's lipstick scene....

A few more details from Roger ...

Well, I arrived in the world in the same year as TRS ........................ Like the vast majority of UK folk in the 1940s, my parents were regular cinemagoers, at least once a week [at this time, television was an expensive, remote luxury for most people, and there were only a few thousand sets in the UK]. To avoid leaving baby Roger unattended [and the use of babysitters], my parents would go to see the week's film at the Regal individually - Mum on Mondays, Dad on Thursdays. Mum always used to tell Dad about the film (and the supporting feature), especially the storyline, so that dad could make up his mind whether the film was of interest to him or not. I must have heard hundreds of these narratives when aged between 0 and 4, but cannot recall hardly any of them. However, vivid accounts of TRS and BN* and the names Powell and Pressburger and The Archers did bury themselves in my subconscious mind .......... so that when I saw the trailer for PT in 1960, I knew that MP was a name to be reckoned with, even though I had never seen any of the films.

[*BN must have still been playing UK cinemas as a re-issue in 1949/1950 as the initial release was before 1948, but then films were kept in circulation much longer in those days, with vast numbers of 2nd/3rd/4th run cinemas, independent of the major circuits].

As these films made a deep impression on my mother, I suppose the names registered with me ... and it is not surprising that I responded to them as well, being in the genes, so to speak ....

[I don't recall my dad mentioning these film at all: Ealing and B/W 1940s "realism" was more to my dad's taste...]

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger were largely passed over by the British establishment during their lifetimes...Surely, they should have been "Sir Michael Powell" and "Lord Pressburger" ?

One can speculate as to why they did not receive these honours, and why David Lean and Carol Reed did receive such high honours ... But then there has always been an anti-PnP faction within the British upper class establishment, who find David Lean ''safer'' (confirming their own values) and less awkward (and less of an artist ....) Powell and Pressburger in their greatest movies have a passion/vision in the 19th century Romantic tradition (which could never be said of David Lean), and the British establishment have never felt comfortable with this. Admittedly, David Lean's films are beautiful to look at in a technical sense, but are, to my mind, rational and rather lacking in passion, values which are held in high esteem by the British ruling class.

Incidentally, the British Film Institute's Top 100 British Films is quite revealing in this respect.. David Lean has 4 films in the top 20, Michael Powell has only two, in 9th and 20th positions.

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