Monday, November 30, 2015

Blind Spot: A Canterbury Tale (1944)

Not one of Powell/Pressburger's finest.

Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Produced by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Written by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
Starring Eric Portman, Sheila Sim, John Sweet and Dennis Price

Plot Summary: Two WWII sergeants - a Brit and an American - and a Land Girl attempt to solve the mystery of an unidentified man tormenting young ladies in the English countryside.

Significance: Though it’s one of Powell and Pressburger’s lesser-known films, it was featured in the latest Sight and Sound Poll (#117 in the 2012 critics poll and #546 in the directors one), and it was also listed #17 in Time Out London’s 100 Best British Films, which was published in 2011.

Thoughts: This could be the quirkiest Powell/Pressburger film, as its plot and tone are somewhat loose. The film is patriotic like a lot of their work, but it lacks the focus of their masterpieces. After an interesting start, the film never really finds its footing, stumbling here and there before a nice finish. Also, the casting of John Sweet (a real U.S. sergeant) as the aw-shucks American sergeant really is a sore spot. While it isn’t close to Powell/Pressburger’s best work, I can’t say I won’t revisit it later to see if I’m more responsive to it. It’s a British classic - just a flawed one.

Rating: B

This is the eleventh film in my 2015 Blind Spot Series, as first started by Ryan McNeil.


  1. I saw this for the first time a few months ago and was underwhelmed. I certainly didn't hate it and loved the feeling of being immersed in a totally British milieu but I thought it was too ambling and I lost interest at certain points.

    1. Yeah, I feel the same way, but I liked it overall.