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A few words about... A Canterbury Tale


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#1 of 9 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted June 30 2006 - 09:13 AM

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

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#2 of 9 OFFLINE   Larry House

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Posted June 30 2006 - 10:21 AM

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 of 9 OFFLINE   Larry Sutliff

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Posted June 30 2006 - 10:55 AM

This is one of the Powell/Pressburger films I haven't seen. I'm looking forward to finally seeing it.

#4 of 9 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted June 30 2006 - 11:05 AM

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.
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#5 of 9 OFFLINE   Jon Robertson

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Posted June 30 2006 - 11:29 AM

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 of 9 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted June 30 2006 - 12:31 PM

The film is not windowboxed.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#7 of 9 OFFLINE   Charles H

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Posted June 30 2006 - 12:56 PM

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.
Charles Hoyt

#8 of 9 OFFLINE   Gary Tooze

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Posted July 04 2006 - 05:44 AM

Quote:
The film is not windowboxed.

Robert, it appears as though the DVD IS windowboxed...

http://www.dvdbeaver...y-pic-boxed.htm

Our review/comparison with the UK edition is forthcoming...

Best,
Gary

#9 of 9 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 04 2006 - 01:18 PM

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

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence