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The Powell and Pressburger Collection [DVD]

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Product details

  • Actors: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Robert Coote, Abraham Sofaer, Peter Finch
  • Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
  • Producers: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
  • Format: Box set, PAL
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 11
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: ITV Studios Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: 20 Nov. 2006
  • Run Time: 1239 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HRLWR6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,888 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Collection of eleven classic films from influential filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. 'The Battle of the River Plate' (1956) tells the true story of the famous 1939 naval battle. Hans Langsdorff (Peter Finch) is captaining the crack German battleship Graf Spee through the South Atlantic, unaware that a small number of lightweight British battle cruisers are hot on his trail. When the British cruisers manage to trap the powerful German ship in the Uruguayan harbour of Montevideo, they attempt to trick Langsdorff into believing that an entire battle fleet is waiting to destroy his vessel at sea. In 'A Canterbury Tale' (1944), a British sergeant, a land girl and a United States Army officer arrive at a Kent village on the same train. The newcomers are brought face to face with the bizarre menace causing bewilderment in the tight-knit community: someone is pouring glue onto the hair of girls who dare to venture out at night with visiting servicemen. Powell and Pressburger offered this 'propaganda' piece as their contribution to the war effort, but the authorities were unsure how its oddball tone would go down with the Allies. In '49th Parallel' (1941), Laurence Olivier and Leslie Howard are among the stars who try to prevent Nazi sailors, from a sunken U-Boat, reaching neutral USA through Canada in this classic war film, which was intended to persuade America to join World War II. Pressburger won an Academy Award for the story and the film was directed by Powell. In 'I Know Where I'm Going!' (1945), a woman (Wendy Hiller) has always known what she wanted in life, and now she is about to marry a millionaire. But when she ends up stranded on a Hebredian island due to a storm, she begins to see things a little differently. 'Ill Met By Moonlight' (1957) was the final film created by Powell and Pressburger together. Set on the island of Crete during the Nazi occupation, the film stars Dirk Bogarde and David Oxley as British officers assigned to kidnap the German commander-in-chief General Kreipe (Marius Goring) and spirit him back to Cairo. If successful, the morale of the Germans would be weakened and the resistance would be stronger. But once he is captured, the British officers have to get him past German patrols at almost every turning. In 'The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp' (1943), stuffy ex-soldier Clive Candy (Roger Livesey) recalls his career which began as a dashing officer in the Boer War. As a young man he lost the woman he loved (Deborah Kerr, who plays three roles) to a Prussian officer (Anton Walbrook), whom he fought in a duel only to become lifelong friends with. Candy cannot help but feel that his notions of honour and chivalry are out of place in modern warfare. The film's title comes from 'Evening Standard' cartoonist David Low's satirical comic creation, Colonel Blimp. In 'The Red Shoes' (1948), ballet impressario Boris Lermontov (Walbrook) hires up-and-coming ballerina Victoria Page (Moira Shearer) and talented young composer Julian Craster (Goring) to work with him on a new ballet, an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story 'The Red Shoes'. The show is a great success and Victoria and Julian fall in love, but Boris is jealous and makes moves to spoil their happiness. 'A Matter of Life and Death' (1946) is a classic wartime propaganda movie, commissioned by the Ministry of Information, but turned into a fantastical allegory by the Archers, aka Powell and Pressburger. David Niven plays an RAF pilot who is ready to be picked up by the angels after bailing out of his plane. But an administrative error in Heaven leads to a temporary reprieve, during which he must prove his right to stay on Earth. A tribunal in heaven ensues to decide the case. In 'They're a Weird Mob' (1966), Nino Culotta (Walter Chiari) is an Italian immigrant who arrives in Australia with the promise of a job as a journalist on his cousin's magazine, only to find that when he gets there the magazine has folded, the cousin has done a runner and the money his cousin sent for the fare was borrowed from the daughter of the boss of a local construction firm. 'The Tales of Hoffman' (1951) is an adaptation of Jacques Offenbach's opera and follows Hoffman's (Robert Rounseville) tales of his love for the doll Olympia, the courtesan Giuletta (Ludmilla Tcherina) and the frail diva Antonia (Anne Ayars), and of how his quest for the eternal woman was always thwarted by evil. Finally, in 'Black Narcissus' (1946), a group of British nuns are sent into the Himalayas to set up a mission in what was once the harem's quarters of an ancient palace. The clear mountain air, the unfamiliar culture and the unbridled sensuality of a young prince (Sabu) and his beggar-girl lover (Jean Simmons) begin to play havoc with the nuns' long-suppressed emotions. Whilst the young Mother Superior, Sister Clodagh (Deborah Kerr), fights a losing battle for order, the jaunty David Farrar falls in love with her, sparking uncontrollable jealousy in another nun, Sister Ruth (Kathleen Byron).


The Powell And Pressburger Collection contains eleven Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell films. Titles in the box set include:

1. “A Matter of Life and Death”
2. “The Red Shoes”
3. “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp”
4. “A Canterbury Tale”
5. “I Know Where I'm Going”
6. “49th Parallel”
7. “Battle of the River Plate”
8. “I’ll Met by Moonlight”
9. “They're a Weird Mob”
10. “The Tales of Hoffman”
11. “Black Narcissus”

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

168 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Klingsor Tristan VINE VOICE on 16 Mar. 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As fine a collection of British movies as you'll find, here are all the great classics from the Archers - no, not the Ambridge mob but the matchless directing/writing team of Powell and Pressburger. A round dozen films, each of them a gem of the skill and craft of film-making, each of them distinctive and exceptional in its look, its content and its style.

What was it that made Powell and Pressburger so special? It would be easy to dismiss films like A Canterbury Tale or I Know Where I'm Going as dated sentimental tosh. Yet they are both anything but - moving, involving, strong on characterisation, visually stunning and evoking an intense sense of place (Rural Kent in the former, the Western Isles in the latter). 49th Parallel? Just blatant propaganda! But then there are those stunning Canadian landscapes, the moving characterisations superbly acted by Anton Walbrook, Leslie Howard and, at the other extreme, Eric Portman. Are Ill Met by Moonlight and Battle of the River Plate just a couple more British War Movies, typical of their period? No, both take a different slant on their reality-based material. In Plate, for example, the big battle scene is over before 2/3 of the film is done and yet the potentially anticlimactic scenes in Montevideo harbour and the final scuttling of the pocket battleship are just as exciting, just as fulfilling an ending as any shoot-`em-up finale. What's Black Narcissus but a high-camp melodrama about nuns going potty with sexual frustration in the Himalayas? No, as a study of women isolated by climate, culture and celibacy as well as topography, it's masterly. (OK, Kathleen Byron in scarlet dress, a slash of lipstick across her mouth and rolling eyes is a bit OTT - but I wouldn't swap her for the world.
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Ian Richardson on 14 Feb. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you look through listings when any of these films are shown on TV you will see five stars more often than not. In this box are eleven critically-acclaimed masterpieces from the greatest production/direction/writing team in the history of cinema. There is more wit, intelligence and visual & verbal inventiveness in five minutes of one of these films than in an entire year of CGI blockbusters from the Hollywood Hype Machine.
Please don't be put off if the only P & P film you have seen is "The Red Shoes". As special as this film undoubtedly is, it is also a rather dated melodrama that has tended to deflect attention from many finer films by this team. To give just one example: Imagine you are a film maker in the middle of a major European war. You set yourself the task of exploring the questions: "What does it mean to be "British"? What exactly are we fighting to preserve? How is it different for each of us? How important is it?" P & P approach this in an oblique and personal way that you just couldn't anticipate. I could watch "A Canterbury Tale" every day for a week and still feel that I had not exhausted its funny, touching intricacies or its evocation of an era.
One or two "obvious" choices are not included and there are some that are not quite up to the stratospheric standard of the greatest. Nevertheless, the films chosen are all very fine and at least six of them are unequivocal masterpieces. I would rather see a second rate film from Michael Powell than a first rate film from almost any film-maker working today. Not only that, but the price for which this set is being offered on Amazon is astonishing.
To make a more complete collection, I would add "One of Our Aircraft is Missing", "The Small Back Room" and "The Edge of the World".
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54 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Godfrey on 19 Feb. 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First came across Powell & Pressburger films when I watched 'A Matter of Life & Death' and I only watched it because I am a fan of David Niven. I loved everything about the film not just Niven and started to look for more 'A Canterbury Tale' was the next one I tracked down, again absolutely brilliant. I bought this collection because it contained their better known absolute classics as well as a few I'd not seen or heard of. If you like black & white movies which are quirky,intelligent,entertaining, beautifully filmed and acted you'll love these.
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69 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Ed Hopkins on 24 July 2007
Format: DVD
This is the cheaper and smaller of two Powell and Pressburger box sets. P & P together produced some of the best films ever made in Britain. The set has 9 disks and contains masterpieces such as I Know Where I'm Going, Colonel Blimp, A Canterbury Tale, The Red Shoes and A Matter of Life and Death but leaves out Black Narcissus and Tales of Hoffman. The quality of the transfers on to DVD seems good but extras are minimal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Doug on 10 April 2011
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A very nice compilation of some of P & P's best work. There a few I have not watched but the quality is excellent and the videos themselves very watchable. Myself, I don't care bo-diddly-damn about the film-making aspects. Very good entertainment and, yes, I'll say it: They don't make 'em like this anymore.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By bernie TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 April 2010
Format: DVD
I have to confess that I have only seen most of the films. I really have to put them in any category as they stand in one of their own. This is one of those time that you really want the set and do not care if the cost more or less as a set.

Emeric Pressburger was born on 05 December 1902, Miskolc, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary.) He was Educated at the Universities of Prague and Stuttgart.

Michael Latham Powell was born 30 September 1905, Bekesbourne, Kent, England, UK. He was educated at Kings School, Canterbury & Dulwich College.

Be sure to read my individual reviews for the various movies. My personal favorite is "I Know Where I'm Going!"

Be sure to add "The Edge of the World" (1938) Director: Michael Powell to this collection. There are good movies but this set is the core.

You need multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player they are quite inexpensive nowadays and can expand your movie world. I am holding out for a time on the multi-region Blu-ray players for a little while.
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