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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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The Effect of the Reviews

So just how bad were these reviews that did so much damage to the career of a great film-maker?
What effect did they have on how much it was shown and seen by the public?

These are included to illustrate the essay on the previous page for purposes of fair comment in a critical context.

Daily Mail; 25th May 1960
Author of article unknown



By Daily Mail Reporter

The film thriller Peeping Tom has been banned for more than 50,000 people.
   But the official film censor has passed it with an X- certificate for over 16's. Last night Mr. Stuart Levy, chairman of the Anglo-Amalgamated Film Distributors, accused the 15 members of Reading watch committee of "dictatorship" in banning the film there without seeing it.
   Mr. Levy said he had received a letter from Reading's town clerk, Mr. George Darlow, which said:"The watch committee gave very careful consideration to the film, of which it had a synopsis. They decided not to license it for Reading. they expressed no desire to have a preview of it."
   Peeping Tom deals with the story of a psychopathic killer.
Said Mr. Levy: "How can the watch committee disapprove of something they have not seen? If they are going to be guided by a synopsis we might just as well send them the story of the Three Blind Mice.
   Mr George Mander, Socialist councillor defeated in the elections two weeks ago, was still chairman of the watch committee when it decided to ban the film.
   He said last night: "It was our unanimous decision. We made it because of the synopsis and the reviews we read in responsible national newspapers and journals which criticised the film."
   Do members of the committee ever see a preview of a film before deciding? "Yes", replied Mr Mander, "If we receive an invitation we send along a sub-committee. But in this case we had no such invitation.



Daily Mail; 8th June 1960
Article by Pearson Phillips

Three men and Peeping Tom

It is, said one critic, "the nastiest film I have ever seen" Said another "It's a long time since a film disgusted me as much as Peeping Tom ... beastly picture."
   These quotations are proudly displayed in the advertising for the Gala Royal Cinema, Marble Arch (which is showing Peeping Tom at the moment).
   I don't know whether the critics were justified. But the fact that their verdicts of nastiness, disgust and beastliness are being exploited to draw customers seemed to me to be one of the most unwholesome gimmicks in film advertising.
Doesn't approve
Yesterday the joint boss of the Gala Royal bought seven more cinemas. he is Mr Joseph Cohen, Birmingham solicitor and head of Jacey Cinemas Ltd. which has just taken over the Monseigneur group for a reported £500,000.
   Does this mean that the seamy policy is going to spread?
   "Oh, dear" said Mr Cohen, on holiday in Bournemouth, "did the critics say that? Well, I certainly didn't approve of exploiting that kind of thing.
   "I am afraid I am old-fashioned. I have asked my son not to associate me with anything like that.........I don't actually deal with any of the advertising"
   Over to Mr Cohen Jun., Mr George Cohen, speaking from his home in Birmingham: "Sordid? I think there is something in what you say. this is certainly not a thing we would advocate. But at least it shows people what to expect.
Didn't know
"Let's face up to it. Our business is really a kind of showmanship. We have got to attract the public. This is just one way of doing it. Psychologically, this is quite a good way of exciting their curiosity ........ though I suppose you could say it is rather an unwholesome kind of curiosity.
   "We only share the running of this cinema with Gala Films. They do the publicity and select the films. I didn't even know this was in the paper"
   Over to Gala Films, London. To Mr. Frank Hazell, who looks after publicity.
   "I am afraid you are putting me on a spot here. I was partly responsible for this.
   "My line in using these quotations was simply to ask people 'Do you believe this? Come and see' And, incidentally, they are coming.
   "Does the fact that they are coming justify my using this kind of draw? Well, let's face it. this is what we are in the business for, to get people to come and see the films."
   Three embarrassed men profiting from something they should be ashamed of.
   Fred Majdalany called this film "thoroughly nasty." In my view, that goes for this method of advertising it as well.

Pearson Phillips

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