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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Fascinating trivia (and any goofs) connected with the film

- The huge escalator linking this World with the Other, called "Operation Ethel" by the firm of engineers who constructed her under the aegis of the London Passenger Transport Board, took three months to make and cost £3,000 (in 1946). "Ethel" had 106 steps each 20 feet wide and was driven by a 12 h.p. engine. The full shot was completed by hanging minatures.

- The backcloth of the High Court scene, suggesting tiers of seats stretching into infinity, measured 350 feet long and 40 feet high. Altogether 8 backcloths of similar large dimensions were used in Other World scenes, and 29 elaborate sets were constructed. In all these vast scenes 5,375 crowd artistes were used, including real R.A.F. crews, Red Cross nurses and W.A.A.C.s. Director Michael Powell insisted upon a high standard of acting in even small parts, and 96 artists were under contract for the film.

- The perfect casting of Marius Goring as the French diplomat, Conductor 71, is partly explained by the fact that he was at Paris University and also toured France in three French plays with the Compagnie des Quinze.

- Michael Powell's brother in law Joe Reidy, a surgeon, gave medical information about neurological conditions, pressure on the brain causing olfactory and optical hallucinations etc. Joe was a plastic surgeon, part of McIndoo's team giving badly burnt fighter pilots (The Guinea Pigs) their faces back.

- Another source of information about olfactory and optical hallucinations caused by clots on the brain was A Journey Round My Skull by Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy. The narrator wittily & ironically recounts the onset of hallucinations and the brain operations he had to get rid of them.

- An American researcher recently (1994) wrote an entire paper on the case of Peter D. Carter. Apparently all the symptoms and diagnoses are medically correct.

- The prologue narrator refers to stars and regions of gas between them, then says that "the starlight makes the gas transparent, and where there are no stars, it appears as dark obscuring clouds." Transparency is actually caused not by starlight but by the absence of dust; starlight will either have no effect on the appearance of gas, or will cause it to be illuminated or perhaps to fluoresce. Dark obscuring clouds are those that contain dust and are not illuminated.

- When the prologue shows the Earth and moon, the sunlight is falling on them from different directions. Also, their motion is in the wrong perspective with that of the stars as the viewpoint moves; some stars seem to be farther away than the Earth, but closer than the moon.

- Peter walks slowly up a very wet beach, shedding his flying gear and one boot. The camera switches to a long shot showing a line of gear and Peter in completely dry sand, the surf a long way off. Also, his shadow jumps to a different direction, indicating the passage of at least 3 hours.

- In the scene where the table tennis game is frozen, the ball moves back a few inches from the first shot of the game to the second, and the position of Frank's left arm changes.

- Conductor 71 says "One is starved for colour up there" during filming, but "Technicolor" was dubbed for "colour" during post-production.

- June's voice is heard before Peter's and she is then seen before Peter is, but the closing credits "in order of appearance" begin with Peter (David Niven).

- For the table tennis scene, Kim Hunter and Roger Livesey were trained by Alan Brooke, the British champion who played many games with International Champion Victor Barna. During a visit to Denham Studios the two champions played a couple of games before an admiring audience of artists and technicians. For luck, Hunter borrowed one of Brooke's tournament bat for her film game.

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