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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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From Film Reel magazine
Undated but approx 1946

Hunt for 'Kanchi'

Jean Simmons
One of the most difficult problems which confronted Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger when they began production on Black Narcissus was the casting of the sensual little native girl, Kanchi. Kanchi, who had to be about sixteen years old, is described by Miss Rumer Godden as "a basket of fruit, piled high and luscious and ready to eat. Though she looks shyly down, there is something steady and unabashed about her; the fruit is there to be eaten, she does not mean it to rot." To find Kanchi, Powell and Pressburger conducted a nation-wide search. In all, nearly 1,000 applications for the part were received, and over 200 girls were tested and interviewed. But the coveted role went to seventeen-year-old Jean Simmons - one of the busiest of Britain's younger actresses who won world-wide acclaim for her performance as Estella in Great Expectations.

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