A Few Words About A few words about... A Canterbury Tale

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Jun 30, 2006.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,263
    Likes Received:
    5,145
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    Toward full disclosure, I'll admit up front to being a dyed-in-the-wool Powell / Pressburger fan, which means that the release of A Canterbury Tale by Criterion is a cause for celebration.

    The 1944 production fits neatly into the P / P pantheon between The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and "I Know Where I'm Going!"

    Criterion has given us the original, longer 124 minute cut of the film, along with the U.S. prologue and ending as an extra.

    Those unfamiliar with the film are in for a pleasant surprise, as the film isn't quite about what it seems to be. Rather, it's one of those films which sticks with you for days, as extra layers are discovered and digested. To some it takes on an almost etherial, mystic quality.

    The transfer was based upon a nitrate fine grain master, which has seen quite a bit of use over decades, but seems to be the finest surviving image element. The audio comes from several sources.

    Starring Eric Portman, Sheila Sim (Lady Attenborough), Dennis Price and John Sweet. Ms. Sim makes her screen debut in the film, and Mr. Sweet, who was a non-pro, made his only screen appearance.

    A second disc offers an interview with Lady Attenborough, a return to Canterbury by Mr. Sweet, a documentary by David Thompson, visiting the films locations, as well as additional extras, all in Criterion fashion.

    To discuss the film is to give away many delights of viewing, especially for the first time. Suffice to say that there are parallels between the film and the works of Chaucer.

    One of the great films.

    Enjoy!

    RAH
     
  2. obscurelabel

    obscurelabel Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2003
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    2
    Real Name:
    Larry
    A new edition of a P&P film is welcome news. I've never seen this one, but the screen caps of the R2 version at DVD Beaver look intriguing, so for me this will definitely be worth viewing.

    Side note: This was the movie that Margaret Mitchell and her husband were crossing the street to see when she was struck by a taxi on 4/11/1949. (The movie's U.S. release was in January 1949). She died on the 16th.
     
  3. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2000
    Messages:
    2,861
    Likes Received:
    10
    This is one of the Powell/Pressburger films I haven't seen. I'm looking forward to finally seeing it.
     
  4. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2003
    Messages:
    4,524
    Likes Received:
    313
    Location:
    Bolton, Lancashire
    Real Name:
    John
    It's a beautiful, beautiful film, quintessentially English, with an astonishing and charming performance coaxed from John Sweet. I'm interested to see if the print is any better than the R2, but I think I'll be getting it any way for the extras.
     
  5. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

    Joined:
    May 19, 2001
    Messages:
    1,568
    Likes Received:
    0
    Even if the print isn't better, the compression certainly should be. This is a stunning film and I'm thrilled about this release.

    Two questions: is the main feature windowboxed, and how does Humphrey Jennings' Listen to Britain look? There are often days when I think the Jennings short is the finest British film ever made.
     
  6. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,263
    Likes Received:
    5,145
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    The film is not windowboxed.
     
  7. Charles H

    Charles H Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2004
    Messages:
    1,526
    Likes Received:
    0
    Does anyone know if THE 49TH PARALLEL is still forthcoming from Criterion? It was mentioned awhile ago, but I worry that it is owned by MGM as a Samuel Goldwyn property. So it might be in the Sony/Fox limbo mess. I'd love to see a decent print of ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING (Recently reviewed by DVDBeaver as an R2 release), THE ELUSIVE PIMPERNAL (released on VHS by HomeVision), and OH, ROSALINDA! out on Criterion dvds.
     
  8. Gary Tooze

    Gary Tooze Producer

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2000
    Messages:
    3,060
    Likes Received:
    0
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,263
    Likes Received:
    5,145
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    Gary,

    If you say it's windowboxed, I believe you. I screened on a Sony XBR 30" HD tube, and the overscan must have compensated.

    Thank you.

    RAH
     

Share This Page