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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User reviews of the Criterion DVD at

Best British film of all time?, February 18, 2001
Reviewer: 4rupert from British Columbia,Canada writes:
If not the best-then surely in the top ten.The quality of this DVD is hard to beat with the best Technicolor work I've ever seen.The focus is razor sharp and the colors soft and warm. I hope that Criterion release "A Matter of Life and Death" and "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" in restored versions at some time in the future.Powell and Pressburger-along with Jack Cardiff-did some great work back in the forties and its wonderful to see it get the presentation it deserves.

BODY AND SOUL, February 18, 2001
Reviewer: wdanthemanw from Geneva, Switzerland writes:
British directors Micha l Powell and Emeric Pressburger's BLACK NARCISSUS is one of the 50 most important movies ever presented. Shot right after WWII, in the London studios, it had the almost impossible task to bring the audience into the middle of the Himalaya mountains, in an ancient palast given to the Order of Mary by the Maharadjah of this region.

As soon as the action takes place in this lost spot, you're going to be shuffled by the howling wind that never stops and the cinematography in Technicolor of Jack Cardiff. The restoration of the images by Criterion is perfect and this copy is without a single doubt the definitive presentation of BLACK NARCISSUS for home movies addicts.

"Black Narcissus" is the name of an european scent innocently brought into the nunnery by the son of the Radjah. The scent, the 17 years old Jean Simmons, the clear air and water of the Himalaya will soon affect the women who, in the solitude of their cells, are fighting against the demons of jealousy, souvenirs of their past and carnal pulsions. Observe how David Farrar, the british eye for the country, is literally undressed by Micha l Powell visit after visit. His last visit to the nunnery, in the middle of the night, with only a short on will set on fire Kathleen Byron, the weakest of the nuns. The last 15 minutes of BLACK NARCISSUS are a model of suspense and a lesson of cinema given by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

Bonus features include a commentary recorded in 1988 by Michael Powell (yes!) and his longtime admirer Martin Scorsese, a trailer and photographies of deleted scenes.

A DVD that should be in your library.

Powell and Pressburgers' best film!, December 21, 2000
Reviewer: Paul from London, United Kingdom writes:
Although not as beloved as the earlier 'A Matter of Life and Death' or 'The Red Shoes', 'Black Narcissus' is undoubtedly my favourite of the legendary double act of Powell and Pressburger. It focuses on the promotion and subsequent mental breakdown of a nun, Debroah Kerr, who is sent to establish a mission in a remote Himalayian village, hanging off the edge of the mountains. The film takes place at an astonishing altitude, and the cinemtography beautifully captures the danger and wonder of their incredible height. The use of early technicolor also adds an incredible beauty to the film, which is more mesmerising than anything they did before or since. It ranks up there with 'Vertigo' as one of the best psychological mysteries even made. Sublime.

One of my favourites of all time!, October 17, 2000
Reviewer: Bil Antoniou from Agincourt, Ontario Canada writes:
One of the best British films ever made is this pioneering effort by independent filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. Shot entirely in Scotland with painted matte backgrounds to recreate the Himalayas (and astonishingly well at that), the film is superbly textured and mature, thematically ahead of any movie made in its period. Deborah Kerr heads a superb group of performers as the Mother Superior of a group of nuns who move to a convent in a remote mountain village in India, only to find that their confidence and strength in their religion is no match for the mystic powers of the East. Sexual frustration over local white man David Farrar, weakening faith, harsh climate and the growing fondness for their homeland soon get to the women and they are forced to leave or die. Interestingly enough, Kerr's flashback scenes of her Scottish youth and teenage sweetheart were cut by American censors upon first release, even though they were completely without sexual content, explicit or implicit; it seems it was too taboo to show a nun who has taken her vows to escape a failed love affair (the scenes have since been restored and are now available on home video). Funny, the nun who throws herself off a mountain because she goes bug-eyed every time she sees Farrar in his shorts didn't even make the Prude Alert blink.

The perfect technicolor movie, August 28, 2000
Reviewer: Dennis J. Pauly from Evanston, IL USA writes:
Never has a movie used technicolor so well as in this haunting tale of 5 Anglican Nuns who are invited to open a school and hospital high up in the mountains of India. Once there the sensuousness of the place causes the nuns to doubt their vocations. They try to fight it but the fox is already in the henhouse in the form of David Farrar. Probably Deborah Kerr's finest performance and Kathleen Byron as the demented Sister Ruth is outstanding.

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