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A Canterbury Tale (1944)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Mystery | 21 January 1949 (USA)
Three modern day pilgrims investigate a bizarre crime in a small town on the way to Canterbury.
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Portman ... Thomas Colpeper, JP
Sheila Sim ... Alison Smith
Dennis Price ... Peter Gibbs
John Sweet ... Bob Johnson (as Sergt. John Sweet U.S. Army)
Esmond Knight ... Narrator (non-US versions) / Seven-Sisters Soldier / Village Idiot
Charles Hawtrey ... Thomas Duckett
Hay Petrie ... Woodcock
George Merritt ... Ned Horton
Edward Rigby ... Jim Horton
Freda Jackson ... Prudence Honeywood
Betty Jardine Betty Jardine ... Fee Baker
Eliot Makeham ... Organist
Harvey Golden Harvey Golden ... Sergt. Roczinsky
Leonard Smith Leonard Smith ... Leslie
James Tamsitt James Tamsitt ... Terry
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Storyline

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. Written by David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

From the Powell-Pressburger team that gave you "Red Shoes" and "Stairway to Heaven" See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Mystery | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 January 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Canterbury mesék See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$650,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Archers (Michael Powell Powell and Emeric Pressburger's production company) weren't given permission to film inside Canterbury Cathedral. In any case, the stained-glass windows had been taken out because of the air raids, the aisles were filled with sandbags and earth to fight fires and to provide a soft landing for any masonry or sculptures that fell there. So the interior of the Cathedral was rebuilt in Denham Studio. They recreated it so well that Cathedral guides have been heard telling people that the film was shot in there. See more »

Quotes

Prudence Honeywood: That's your room. You won't get much of a view I'm afraid.
Alison Smith: You should have seen the view from my room in London.
Prudence Honeywood: Was it a long street with every house a different sort of sadness in it?
Alison Smith: It was a long row of back gardens, and the tall, sad houses were all the same.
Prudence Honeywood: Ghastly in winter.
Alison Smith: Airless in summer. You seem to know them.
Prudence Honeywood: The only man who ever asked me to marry him wanted me to live in a house like that. I'm still a maid.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original UK version runs 124 minutes. For the USA release, the film was re-edited to 95-minutes and new footage starring Kim Hunter inserted:
  • A scene between Bob (John Sweet) and his new bride Kim Hunter on the Rockefeller Center introduces the story which he then tells in flashback.
  • The idyllic scenes with the boys' river battle and much of the hunt for the glue-man is cut with addition scenes or commentary by Bob added to cover the gaps.
  • There is an additional epilogue with Bob and his girl at the tea-rooms in Canterbury.
See more »

Connections

Featured in A Canterbury Trail (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Commando Patrol
(uncredited)
Written by Allan Gray, Stan Bowsher, and Walter Ridley
Heard in the background during Johnson and Gibbs's scene in the lobby of the Hand of Glory
See more »

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User Reviews

Neither here nor there
27 December 2003 | by symmachosSee all my reviews

Some of the Archers' films have moved and delighted me -- BLACK NARCISSUS, THE RED SHOES. Others have interested me but left me rather cold -- PEEPING TOM, TALES OF HOFFMANN. This one falls right in the middle. The wartime milieu, the surprisingly *dark* nighttime photography, the central characters, the supporting cast of Kentish country folk -- all these engaged me for about the first hour of the movie. But in the second hour, as the "Glue Man" theme became increasingly worn out and the prospect of "miracles" in Canterbury loomed larger, I felt more and more detached from the proceedings. Especially unwelcome was the churchy quality of the denouement. Still, I have no argument with the commenters who have praised the film so highly. So let me turn the denouement of my own commentary into a list of the positive impressions that stayed with me after "The End" appeared so unexpectedly on the screen.

First -- I loved the camaraderie that developed immediately among all the ordinary folks thrown together and forced to work as teammates for the common cause. (If war is good for anything, it must be that.) Second -- I liked the tall skinny American soldier and the difficulties and simple pleasures he found among the Brits -- I've been there, done that, and P&P captured the feeling very nicely. (Note: Bob Johnson's accent is quite authentic for a rural Oregonian, so stop complaining, you funny Commonwealth lot!). Third -- I enjoyed every minute that Sheila Sim was on camera. Finally -- that cut in the prologue, from the hawk to the fighter plane, was excellent indeed. (And yes, I'd bet my piggy bank that Stanley Kubrick got his idea for the bone-to-space station cut in 2001 from this very film.)

But wait, I realize that I do have to register one last complaint. I love black & white movies, so much that whenever I hear twentysomething kids whine that they can only watch movies in color, I am nauseated. And yet -- I wager that any filmmakers who purport to represent the beauty of the Kentish countryside on a summer day will truly achieve their goal only if they film in color. England's green and pleasant land just can't be painted in shades of gray.


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