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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Inside sleeve of various of Steve's videos

Michael Powell
Notes from a video sleeve

Michael Powell (1905-1990) grew up in Kent and became fascinated by film-makers like Gance and Griffith while still a schoolboy at Dulwich College. His father moved to France and in 1925 found him a humble job with Rex Ingram's MGM unit based near Nice, where he was able to sample many aspects of movie-making before returning to England in 1928. Soon established as a prolific director of mainly low-budget thrillers, he revealed his ambition with The Edge of the World (1937), which led to a contract with Korda's London Films, a share of directing duties on the spectacular Thief of Bagdad, and the start of a twenty-year partnership with the writer Emeric Pressburger on The Spy in Black (1939).

Together they created some of the most original film contributions to the war effort, including 49th Parallel (1941), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), A Canterbury Tale (1944), I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) and A Matter of Life and Death (1946). The Archers, as Powell and Pressburger now signed their joint films, continued to exploit Technicolor and a vein of metaphysical melodrama in Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), before renewed crisis in the British film industry forced them into the compromised co-productions of Gone to Earth and The Elusive Pimpernel (both 1950). The Tales of Hoffmann (1951) marked the artistic climax of their 'total cinema', but led to three years of failed projects. After Oh Rosalinda!! (1955) and two nostalgic war films, The Battle of the River Plate and Ill Met by Moonlight (both 1956), the partnership ended.

Powell found scant backing in Britain for his romantic vision, so he went to Spain for Luna de Miel (1959), Germany for Bluebeard's Castle (1964) and Australia for They're a Weird Mob (1966) and Age of Consent (1969). His later career suffered from the scandal of Peeping Tom (1960), which offended many, while also inspiring younger British and American film-makers- including Martin Scorsese, who helped secure its re-release and became an eloquent champion of Powell and Pressburger's work. Powell's last decade saw impressive restorations of his major films by the National Film Archive, tributes and retrospectives around the world, and the first volume of his autobiography, A Life in Movies (1986).

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