Give me time, and I could be a fairly big fan of the films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (a.k.a. “the Archers”). I already love 49th Parallel (1941) and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), quite possibly the best and most self-critical war-time propaganda movies ever made — I devoted a few paragraphs to them in an article on war movies for Books & Culture — and I am intrigued by the spiritual implications of Black Narcissus (1947). But I wouldn’t say I know their works well enough to comment on them at any great length; I just happen to enjoy them.
A couple nights ago I had the privilege of introducing my wife to I Know Where I’m Going! (1945), which in some ways is a typical romantic comedy populated by eccentric, rustic supporting characters, but it’s got a wit and a charm and even a surrealism that make it better than most films in its genre. FWIW, Deanna and I generally roll our eyes whenever we come across any film about someone who falls in love with someone new just days before his or her wedding, but this film sets out its terms (people with money are shallow and snobby, people without it are full of life) so starkly and humorously that it doesn’t really matter — this is clearly fantasy, a grand myth, and not reality. And the dream sequence, in which Wendy Hiller imagines that she is marrying “Consolidated Chemical Industries” itself and not the man who happens to own or run the company, is beautifully strange.
I am also struck by the segue which begins with the camera coming in tight on a train station employee’s hat, which then puffs smoke, before the image dissolves to a train’s chimney. It’s one thing for Hitchcock to make a simple cut from an image of a woman about to scream to an image of a train whistle, as he did in The 39 Steps, but it’s quite another for a filmmaker to rig up a prop to do something on the set as strange as that puffing hat!