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Post  Pilgrim on Tue 04 Jul 2017, 8:18 am

Questions arose whether or not Stanley Kubrick had seen A Canterbury Tale prior to making his famous movie 2001 - A Space Odyssey. A medieval Chaucer character releases a bird of prey at the start of ACT. The bird flies high into the air and then transforms into a World War Two Spitfire as the modern sequences that take up the rest of the movie begin. The idea is similar to a scene in "Odyssey" where a bone, thrown into the air by a prehistoric ape called Moon-Watcher at the end of the movie's first section, is transformed into a futuristic orbital weapon platform travelling through space, to usher in the second section, set about four million years later. It was Emeric Pressburger's idea to change a bird into a plane. Charles Staffell, a special effects advisor, worked on the production of ACT and also Kubrick's "Odyssey" which could help explain the similarities.



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Post  Pilgrim on Tue 04 Jul 2017, 8:20 am

Compare these two scenes from the Kubrick & Powell movies.





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Post  Pilgrim on Tue 04 Jul 2017, 8:21 am

Roger Livesey was considered to play the role of the Glue Man.



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Post  Pilgrim on Tue 04 Jul 2017, 8:25 am

Young Roger Livesey would not have been a convincing Glue Man. Portman had those penetrating eyes which was necessary to play the role of the glue throwing villain.



Portman died in 1969.


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Post  Pilgrim on Tue 04 Jul 2017, 8:27 am

The draft script called for a knife to be used by Colpeper to slash the dresses of the girls who were dating the soldiers, but it was changed to pouring glue on their hair. One of the themes of A Canterbury Tale is comparing life in a country village with life in a big city (Chillingbourne verses Chicago). A big city is the place where criminals commit acts of violence, so it would make no sense to depict an assailant in Chillingbourne using a knife which could cause terrible injuries including death.




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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 4:09 am

Burgess Meredith was the first choice to play Sergeant Bob Johnson, but John Sweet got the part. Meredith instead acted as a script editor for Johnson's character.



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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 4:12 am

The original script mentioned that Bob Johnson was on his way to Canterbury as his ancestors had come from there. Michael Powell first spotted Sweet in a stage production called "The Eve of Saint Mark" at the Scala in Kings Cross. Also worth noting is that Sweet's entire movie earnings of £500 was donated to a charity with the approval of the American soldier himself. After the war, Sweet returned to the USA and continued his career as a school teacher. It's interesting to note that Sweet has the same birth date (8th of February) as James Dean and the administrator of this website. Sweet was one of the best natural actors the Archers ever employed. He passed away on the 5th of July, 2011.



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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 4:18 am

In A Canterbury Tale, Bob Johnson had not received a letter from his girlfriend for seven weeks, but in real life John Sweet had not received any mail from his wife in the USA for twelve months.


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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 4:20 am

Michael Powell's first choice to play the role of Alison Smith was the well known actress Deborah Kerr.



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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 4:22 am

The role of Alison Smith was best suited for an actress with "down-to-earth" looks. Deborah Kerr was a little too sophisticated and glamourous to be a convincing Land Girl. Kerr reminds me of Eva Gabor who played the farm wife of Eddie Albert in Green Acres. Sheila Sim drew on her own experience for the role of the land girl, having volunteered in 1940 to work for the Women's Land Army in Herefordshire. During the time of the 1943 production of A Canterbury Tale she was engaged to Richard Attenborough. Sim first met Michael Powell in London which resulted in her movie debut in ACT. Powell was very impressed with Sim's acting saying, "She made it her own, delivering a performance of depth and sincerity." Sim passed away in 2016.



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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 4:24 am

The County Hotel (opposite the Beaney Institute on the High Street) is where Sheila Sim stayed during the location filming of A Canterbury Tale.



The County Hotel, which was also used for a post production party, is now called the ABODE.

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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 5:22 am

Michael Powell described seeing Dennis Price on stage for the first time: "A tall slim young man. He had charm and elegance and a long, good looking oval face with a long, sensitive upper lip. He was impudently well mannered." Price would often forget his lines during the filming of A Canterbury Tale.



Price died in 1973. He is buried on Sark (Channel Islands).


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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 5:24 am

When the trio chase the Glue Man up "Charing Street" it was actually in a studio. The allusion of a longer street was made possible with the use of a boy wearing a coat running away in the dark.

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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 5:27 am

When Peter Gibbs (Dennis Price) visits Colpeper's House he looks around for evidence. He opens a bookcase and chooses a volume at random. When he opens the book it clearly shows a photo of an island called Foula which is the location of Michael Powell's movie, "The Edge of the World."



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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 5:32 am

As a boy, Michael Powell and his mother went on a journey on the Pilgrims Way from Canterbury to Southwark. Upon their arrival in Guildford and the Wey River passing by Merrow Down, they made a detour to see the beautiful church called Saint Martha-on-the-Hill which became Powell's inspiration for the opening scene of A Canterbury Tale. On the day of the actual shooting of the scene in 1943, Reverend Philip Grey commented on the excellent teamwork of the Archer's film crew.



In 1961, Emeric Pressburger paid a return visit to Saint Martha-on-the-Hill.

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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 5:35 am

British Boxing champion Billy Wells played the role of the Knight in A Canterbury Tale.



Wells was one of the men hired to strike the gong before the start of a RANK movie.

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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 5:38 am

A real engine driver helped with the opening railway scene in A Canterbury Tale when he was requested to purposely release more steam so his train could be easily spotted from a distance.

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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 5:41 am

James Tamsitt (General Terry) had a haircut to make him look tidy before he went to London with Leonard Smith and David Todd to do some scenes at Denham Studios. Upon his arrival in London, Powell & Pressburger told James he had to wear a wig because his new haircut didn't match the longer hair he had in scenes filmed on location.



Some of the boys who appeared in ACT were paid £9.00 each for two weeks work.
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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 5:48 am

Little David Todd at his age did not always cooperate when it came to filming his scenes. He was given many custard pies in an effort to keep him under control.



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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 5:50 am

For some reason David Todd would cry when he saw a particular member of the camera crew so he had to be hidden from David's view. But when Michael Powell wanted little Commander Todd to cry and he didn't, out came the "bad man" and immediately David would erupt in tears. However, the crew member got a little too close to the action and was caught on camera before making a hasty retreat.



CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO SEE THE BAD MAN AT THE ONE HOUR TWO MINUTES MARK.


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Post  Pilgrim on Mon 28 Aug 2017, 5:57 am

Canterbury Mayor Frederick Charles Lefevre and Canterbury Police Superintendent George Hall travelled to Denham Studios for the filming of the final scene of ACT.

Photo of Canterbury Mayor Frederick Charles Lefevre (1879-1945):



CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO SEE THE MAYOR AND SUPERINTENDENT IN THE ACT MOVIE.

SEE THE SUPERINTENDENT AT THE ONE HOUR FIFTY FIVE MINUTES EIGHT SECONDS MARK.

SEE THE MAYOR AT THE ONE HOUR FIFTY FIVE MINUTES TWENTY SIX SECONDS MARK.
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Post  Pilgrim on Fri 08 Sep 2017, 11:57 pm

In the Hand of Glory Albert Woodcock tells Alison Smith that the stone on the wall was found on the Pilgrims Road. The stone is actually an epitaph of a Roman soldier Marcus Herennius Tolemaeus who was in the army for 25 years.



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Post  Pilgrim on Fri 08 Sep 2017, 11:59 pm

During the filming of A Canterbury Tale, the owner of Wickhambreaux Court was Frank Montgomery. He was a local Home Guard and a member of the secret Mustard Seed Patrol whose job would be to sabotage German efforts if the Nazi invasion of Kent was successful.




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Post  Pilgrim on Sat 09 Sep 2017, 12:05 am

In 1943 this building in Saint Peter's Street in Canterbury was used as the office for the Archers.



Michael Powel placed a poster and photos in the window advertising the final filming of ACT.

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Post  Pilgrim on Sat 09 Sep 2017, 12:08 am

These spectators on the High Street were unpaid extras filmed during the parade in A Canterbury Tale:



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Post  Pilgrim on Sat 09 Sep 2017, 12:10 am

Kathleen Sybil (Reid) Lucas (1889-1989) was the uniformed woman who was approached by Alison Smith (Sheila Sim) for help with street directions. Kathleen, who was awarded a MBE in World War One for her services to Civil Defence, was a true British patriot who also joined the Women's Voluntary Services and became County Borough Organiser for Canterbury.



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Post  Pilgrim on Tue 19 Sep 2017, 5:05 am

If you look closely at the scene when Alison Smith (Sheila Sim) is inside her caravan at Rose Lane Garage, you will notice that the "moths" are actually little bits of torn white paper flying with the help of an off camera fan.



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Post  Pilgrim on Sun 01 Oct 2017, 12:52 am

The Hand of Glory was a right hand of a murderer that was severed while the corpse was still hanging from the gallows. Afterwards it was wrapped in a shroud and squeezed of blood then pickled for two weeks in an earthenware jar. It was either dried in an oven or laid out to dry in the sun during the hot days of August. When the hand was ready, candles were fitted between the fingers. They were called the "dead man's candles" and were made from another murderer's fat, with the wick being made from his hair. Thieves would often used the hand when breaking into buildings and homes.



The "Chillingbourne Arms" was first considered as the name for the Hand of Glory.
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Post  Pilgrim on Tue 31 Oct 2017, 11:29 pm

The Hand of Glory set featured hand carved wooden pilgrims on the staircase.



The Canterbury Tales were also seen in pictures as a mural on the landing of the staircase.
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Post  Pilgrim on Tue 31 Oct 2017, 11:30 pm

In 1949 Margaret Mitchell died in hospital after she was hit by a drunk driver when she was crossing the road on her way to see A Canterbury Tale.

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Post  Pilgrim on Tue 31 Oct 2017, 11:32 pm

During World War Two, Emeric Pressburger was refused a Temporary Residence Permit by Kent Chief Constable Percy Sillitoe (see insert) on the grounds that he was a Hungarian who had once worked in Berlin. Pressburger eventually made it to Canterbury in 1979.



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Post  Pilgrim on Wed 01 Nov 2017, 2:07 am

The bell ringing in the opening and closing shots of the movie were a miniature replica of Canterbury Cathedral's tower. The bells were "rung" by local bell ringers who pulled the strings with finger and thumb to a playback of the real bells.

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