Powell & Pressburger
UK DVD (2007)

Header Photo: Two criminally underrated stars from A Canterbury Tale (1944), the incomparable Eric Portman & Dennis Price. UK Dvd details below.

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A Canterbury Tale
M O V I E   R E V I E W

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A Canterbury Tale Dvd
A Canterbury Tale
(January 2017 - back in stock with booklet and postcard)
ITV Studios Home Entertainment

1944, 124 MINS, UK, B&W

  • Dir: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
  • Prod: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
  • Scr: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
  • Ph: Erwin Hiller
  • Ed: John Seabourne
  • Mus: Allan Gray
  • Art Dir: Alfred Junge


Movie Review

A Canterbury Tale was my introduction to the magical world of Powell & Pressburger and boy what an introduction. To be honest before seeing it I hadn't even heard of them let alone knowing any of their works apart from a passing recollection of The Red Shoes.

So there I was, in front of the TV and expecting a typical piece of 2nd World War British propaganda. Needless to say what I got was something I just didn't uderstand. On first viewing it completely went over my head. I just didn't get what they were getting at and it confused me then disquietened me ... What was it? It seemed slow - a film that went nowhere fast and when it got there why did it go there? Something about a glue man, a falcon, Canterbury Cathedral and daft as it sounds my surprise at seeing in the streets of Canterbury familiar shop signs of today like Rymans.

    I don't understand it: it must be art

But even at that confused first viewing I was blown away not just by some of the imagery: the falcon/spitfire for example, but more than that it had 'something' haunting about it which I can't just put into words.

On further viewings I have fallen in love with the movie and yet I still can't say why it is so good. I suppose it's in the way it is told for me rather than the story itself. The camerawork is alluring, the actors including a sweetly innocent Sheila Sim (the future Lady Attenborough) breathe flesh onto the bones, and even a bomb damaged Canterbury looks well worth fighting for, but it is so much better than these things.

    Erwin Hillier's camerawork is beautifully haunting; some of the scenes are like dreamscapes of a gentle Britain long lost

It is the only film I've seen where I fail hopelessly to say why it is so good and for me that is why it is so good. It disturbs me this film because I just can't pinpoint why it holds me, capitivates me, and in its mysterious charm it holds me but I just can't give you an easy answer why it does so. I guess it seeps into my subconscious and bypasses my stupid conscious!

All I can say is just see it for yourself and maybe you can let me know why it is so magical.

Btw I also discovered Eric Portman in this film and he soon became one of my favourite actors. Neither conventionally good looking or even having much panache he nevertheless had screen presence and a Northern kind of moodiness and kind of gentle menace that fits the mystery of this film like a glove.

- © Paul Page, Lenin Imports

Sincerity and simplicity shine through every foot of this oversized modern version of the Chaucer epic tale. Here is rare beauty.

Without belittling the highly imaginative genius inspiring the two directors, Michael Powell and Emeric pressburger, first honours go to Erwin Hillier, whose camerawork is superb. Nothing more effective by way of a time transition shot has been conceived than the way he carries his audience through nine centuries in a few seconds. Beginning with a close-up of a hooded falcon on the wrist of an ancient Canterbury pilgrim (400 years before Columbus discovered America), he follows the graceful bird as it soars aloft on speedy wings. When it becomes a mere speck, it turns and comes gliding back. On coming nearer, it is seen to be a Spitfire.

Sheila Sim (now Lady Attenborough) is the sole femme of the story. As a London shop girl, turned farmeret for the duration, she turns in a polished performance. Although giving the American GI all the best of it, there is an equally well-drawn characterization, the British tank-sergeant, done so well by Dennis Price. For him the cathedral works as a miracle.

Star of the film, Eric Portman, gives a splendid restrained performance as a smalltown justice of the peace. Four miracles occur in this story, one to each of the four principal characters.



A Canterbury Tale  Dvd A Canterbury Tale Dvd A Canterbury Tale Dvd

A Canterbury Tale Movie Still
© Rank / Itv

A Canterbury Tale Movie Still
© Rank / Itv

A Canterbury Tale Movie Still
© Rank / Itv

A Canterbury Tale Movie US Dvd Cover
© Criterion

A Canterbury Tale, UK Dvd Details

Certificate: U
Running Time: 119 minutes
Audio: English
Type: Black & White
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
Release Date: 1999

Released in the UK by ITV DVD .

Compelling drama set amidst the backdrop of World War Two Britain. Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger ("A Matter of Life and Death"; "The Red Shoes"), it has been acknowledged as one of the duo's finest films. Their reworking of Chaucer's epic fourteenth century tale--largely set in Kent--revolves around an American army sergeant, a British soldier and a land girl who, before making a modern-day pilgrimage to Canterbury, solve the bizarre mystery of a man who pours glue over the hair of village girls at night.


Please note: this item is only sold within UK & Europe as the chances are it won't work on Dvd Players outside this region.

Jan. 17: Back in stock. 'Used - very good'.

Price: 6.00 (UK Sterling) (UK Postage Inclusive)

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A Canterbury Tale Dvd

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Movie Cast & Review   

Eric Portman

Dennis Price

Powell & Pressburger

A Canterbury Tale: In Search of Photographs

My YouTube Video: Canterbury, River Stour Boat Trip - May 2014 (14:21)

My YouTube Video: Canterbury Riverbank, River Stour Trip - May 2014 (00:17)

My YouTube Video: Christopher Marlowe's Head, Canterbury, Kent - May 2014 (00:20)

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