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]

  Steve's Logo

The Trade Reviews

So just how bad were these reviews that did so much damage to the career of a great film-maker?
Here are a few of the Trade Reviews that we've managed to find. There may also be others.
These show that Peeping Tom wasn't universally hated on first release.

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

The Daily Cinema; 1st April 1960
Review by 'B.C.'


STARS: Carl Boehm, Moira Shearer
Anna Massey, Maxine Audley.
PROD. AND DIR.: Michael Powell
In Eastman colour

Type of production: Horror drama.

Story outline: Young movie cameraman, who does salacious nude stills on the side, is the psychopathic victim of his psychiatrist father's investigations into the causes of fear, using his own son as guinea pig. He becomes a killer of women, filming them at the point of death to capture the living terror on their faces. Romance with a young woman living in the same apartments fails to save him from dying at his own hand.

Rating: Compelling exploitation subject on title, theme and certificate.

Critic's view: This is a highly controversial film which, without blinking facts, will shock and even frighten many. It is a film of obvious exploitable value to that wide audience which seems to like its entertainment as tough as it can get.
   It has an uncomfortable theme, yet one which is fraught with suspense. That expert movie-maker Michael Powell has invested it with a maximum of technical excellence and all the quality of which he is capable.
   Carl Boehm carries the main role with power and conviction. Maxine Audley has an unusual part as a blind woman addicted to the bottle, and Moira Shearer appears all too briefly as one of the murderer's victims.
   The horrific moments are not too many, since it is the theme itself which provides the emotional impact. The climax, however, tingles with drama. Photographed in hard colour, with many home-movie interpolations in black and white, the picture embraces both low-life London scenes and many exciting sequences in a film studio easily recognisable as Pinewood.



Kinematograph Weekly; 7th April 1960
Review by Josh Billings


Anglo Amalgamated, British (X). Photographed in Eastman Color. Featuring Carl Boehm, Moira Shearer and Anna Massey. Produced and directed by Michael Powell. Screenplay by Leo Marks.
Director of Photography, Otto Heller. Musical Director, Brian Easdale. 9,789 feet.
Release May 16, 1960

PSYCHOPATHIC thriller, sprayed with Eastman Color. It illustrates the pathetic and grisly case history of a deeply inhibited cameraman who dabbles in pornography and photographs the death agonies of women whom he had fatally stabbed, but finally dies from self-administered wounds. The opening Soho seamy side stuff is a bit gamy, but subsequent action, interleaved by genuine sentimental touches and intermittent film studio humour, balances the basic profile, cleverly etched by Carl Boehm. Thoughtful as well as sensational, it should fascinate and grip the majority. And what a title! First-rate British "shocker".

Story. - Mark Lewis, a young film studio cameraman who "shoots" nudes as a sideline, is a homicidal maniac, having an obsession to photograph the terror on his victims' faces as he stabs them. Mark's behaviour results from monstrous treatment by his father, a scientist, who, during Mark's childhood, used the boy to study fear. After killing a street girl, Mark, lonely and unhappy, welcomes the friendship of Helen Stephens, a librarian, who lives with her blind mother in Mark's house. Mark, aware that he is uncontrollably mad, stabs Vivien, a beautiful film extra. The police investigate and later Helen discovers Mark's secret. Mark resists the urge to destroy her, and when the police ultimately corner him Mark takes his own life while records of his screams as a child churn out.

Production. - The picture has a "dirty post-card" racket opening, but as soon as the cause and effect of Mark's ugly neurosis is established it devolves into an absorbing and thrilling anatomy of fear. Carl Boehm contributes a convincing and, oddly enough, sensitive portrayal as Mark, Anna Massey, although no glamour girl, has her moments as Helen, Maxine Audley registers as the blind Mrs. Stephens who has an unfailing sixth sense, Moira Shearer scintillates as Vivien, and Esmond Knight amuses as an exasperated and impatient film director. Moreover, climax is at once tender and horrifying, the backgrounds are suitably varied, its dialogue is to the point and both the camera work and musical accompaniment are first class.

Points of Appeal. - Moving and blood-curdling tale, fascinating performance by Carl Boehm, adult direction, apt light relief, flawless technical presentation, box-office title, Eastman Color and terrific exploitation angles.


Kinematograph Weekly; 7th April 1960
'New Films at a glance'

Psychopathic thriller, photographed in Eastman Color, illustrating case history of brilliant young photographer turned pornographer and sadistic killer. Tale thoughtful as well as sensational, Carl Boehm outstanding, romance and humour appropriate, and climax both tragic and showmanlike.

Box-office angle..   First-rate British "shocker" (NC)   [Not suitable for children]


Kinematograph Weekly; 14th April 1960
Editorial column

Most of the national critics were not enamoured with the subject matter of Peeping Tom, and while I would agree that it is not everybody's cup of tea, it is a powerfully gripping, well-produced picture and I do not think there can be any doubt that it will do very well as an X certificate booking.


Kinematograph Weekly; 14th April 1960
'Your Films' by Josh Billings

ANGLO AMALGAMATED has two British chillers in the West End. One, Peeping Tom, a pychopathic thriller, is at the Plaza. The critics hated the film and said so in no uncertain terms. Naturally, their strictures didn't do it a lot of good, but its time will come later.

THE OTHER Anglo Amalgamated opus, Circus of Horrors, by-passed the long-haired boys and girls. It took a flyer at the London Pavilion and should stay put for at least a month. The moral is never show an horrific to the highbrows, they just can't stand the sight of blood.


Kinematograph Weekly; 28th April 1960
'Your Films' by Josh Billings

"CIRCUS OF HORRORS" (Anglo Amalgamated - British) is definitely clicking at the London Pavilion.
It wasn't unveiled before the scribes, but the carnivorous "ninepennies" quickly smelled blood. Circus of Horrors is a sitter for the crowd.

A SAVAGELY hostile press didn't prevent Peeping Tom (Anglo Amalgamated - British) from scoring steadily during its two weeks' stay at the Plaza. Anyway, nobody can dispute that the pathological thriller has a marvellous monicker. Samson and Delilah (Paramount) returned to the Plaza last Thursday and has already shown that the DeMille magic is impervious to time.

Back to index