A Canterbury Tale (1944) torrent download

A Canterbury Tale

1944

Comedy / Drama / Mystery / War

7.5

Synopsis

A 'Land Girl', an American GI, and a British soldier find themselves together in a small Kent town on the road to Canterbury. The town is being plagued by a mysterious "glue-man", who pours glue on the hair of girls dating soldiers after dark. The three attempt to track him down, and begin to have suspicions of the local magistrate, an eccentric figure with a strange, mystical vision of the history of England in general and Canterbury in particular.

Director

Emeric Pressburger

Cast

Eric Portman
as Thomas Colpeper, JP
Sheila Sim
as Alison Smith
Dennis Price
as Peter Gibbs
John Sweet
as Bob Johnson
Charles Hawtrey
as Thomas Duckett
Esmond Knight
as Narrator / Seven-Sisters Soldier / Village Idiot
Hay Petrie
as Woodcock

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Igenlode Wordsmith 9 /10

A gentle gem that defies description

The major disadvantage when recommending this film to someone is that it's practically impossible to describe! It's easy enough to say what it *isn't*: it's not a detective story and it's certainly not a thriller, despite the fact that it nominally revolves around an unsolved crime. It's not a war-story, despite the fact that it is set immediately before D-Day and the main characters are intimately involved in the war effort. It's not a romance, despite the fact that two of the characters have an unhappy love-story. And it's not the Chaucerian epic one might be led to expect by the title and the opening scene - although by the end, the pilgrimage allusions turn out to be rather more strangely apt then they at first appear.

The only word I can find to give a flavour of this story is that it is above all English - as English as Ealing comedy (without the comedy), as Miss Marple (without the murder), as Elizabeth Goudge (without the magic)... and yet again I find myself defining it by what it *isn't*! It's English in a way that is quietly, deeply antithetical to the frenetic posturing of 'Cool Britannia'. It is as English as the haze over the long grass beneath the trees of a summer meadow; as polished brass and a whiff of steam as the express pulls up at a country halt; as church bells drifting in snatches on a lazy breeze, and the taste of blackberries in the sun.

It's almost impossible now to comprehend that the 1940s countryside in which this film is set was *really there*; that it was not the Second World War but its crippling aftermath that industrialised farms, banished the horse-drawn vehicles from the wheelwright's, and exchanged towering hay-wains for silage towers. Britain was determined never to starve again - and so the world that had once differed so little from that of Chaucer's time was swept away beyond recall. When it was made, this film was no more a rustic period piece than 'Passport to Pimlico', a few years later, was an urban social documentary. Subsequent events have preserved both in mute evidence of contemporary communities that are almost unbelievable today.

It is perhaps fair, therefore, to assume that the type of viewer who will watch 'Battlefield Earth' is unlikely to find this film anything other than silly, parochial and ultimately dull! Very little actually happens. The story is on occasion both humorous and poignant, but what we at first assume to be the central plot turns out not to be the point at all. The triple denouement is set up so gently and skilfully that we, too, are taken by miraculous surprise, with the true shape of the film only evident in retrospect.

It is, ultimately, a story about faith, and miracles, and pilgrimages, even in the then-modern world of shopgirls, lumbermen and cinema organists - and if that idea in itself sounds enough to put you off, as I confess it would have done for me before I watched it myself, then I will gladly add that it is a film about beauty, and hope, and unexpected friendship and laughter; and technically very accomplished to boot. The use of black and white is glorious, ranging from the glimmer in the obscurest of shadows to sun-drenched hillside, and the totally unselfconscious reference to Chaucer in the opening sequence is in these days worth the price of admission alone.

If you like gentle films - sweet-natured films - films with a deep affection for their subject - films that make you laugh and cry, but always smile - then I urge you not on any account to miss this one. If, for the moment, you require thrills, spills, forbidden passions and last-minute rescues, then pass it by and let it go on its tranquil way. When you are old and grey and full of sleep, this unassuming classic will still be there, waiting...

Reviewed by Tipu N/A

A deep & entertaining study

This is a multilayered, erudite, passionate exploration of England's national character. The route Powell and Pressburger take for this rather difficult task is to follow John Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress'. During the second war a group of disparate people are thrown together one night at a deserted railway platform in Kent. Using a plot device of a mysterious, though harmless, assailant who preys upon women, P & P examines English country life, the Englishman's love for nature, the idisyncracies, the distrust of foreigners, the 'pubbing', the resilience, the faith in institutions (the church, the gentry), etc.

The scope of the movie is amazing, and in 2 hours it covers enormous ground. The entire thing is so skillfully and assuredly done that in spite of the absence of any stars and (almost) of a story, and the fact that John Bull is never my companion of choice in any desert island, I was riveted to this movie. Besides the acting, this effect was achieved also by Alfred Junge's brilliant art direction (I couldn't believe the Canterbury church was just a set) and William Hillier's black and white photography. Two scenes stand out - a bird 'turning into' an airplane signifying time going on ahead by a few centuries, and an armoured car breaking through bushes and undergrowth (a very 'Predator'-ish shot).

This is a must see.

Reviewed by Spondonman 9 /10

"Happy The Man ..." is me after watching this

After a dozen viewings or so I still rate this as one of my Top 20 favourites, the passing of time doesn't seem to lessen its brilliance, if anything it improves with age. The Carlton budget DVD out at the moment makes the black and white photography gleam even more now, so I wonder why the BBC have always shown such an inferior copy.

ACT is a pleasant inconsequential masterpiece, with no heavy points to labour, no axes to grind and for wartime not too many flags to wave. But it leaves you wishing that Olde England could've been better preserved from the elected savages in charge of us since, and that perhaps it wasn't so surprising that people were ready to defend such a country and its lifestyles to the death. The only thing Chaucer inspired in me in all of his tales was the desire to reach the end of the journey.

The story? Mysterious fetishist keeps pouring glue onto unsuspecting girls heads at night - 3 intrepid souls determine to find and unmask the weirdo, but vacillate when their moment comes. The four main characters weave in and out of the tale, moving it forward gently to the rather grand climax. But what about the Glueman himself - did he go back home to his reprehensible pastime or did he meet a sticky end? Did Bob get his marijuana? Did they manage to get the moths out of Allison's caravan? Did Peter ever stop playing on his organ?

Refreshing: 1/ A platonic relationship between three handsome men and one beautiful woman. 2/ The most violent scene is where the troops burst out clapping the Sgt. who repaired the slide projector. 3/ A basic plot premise so flimsy and yet so captivating.

A most profitable way of spending two hours.

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