Stairway to Heaven: A Matter of Powell and Pressburger

We’re getting very excited about our screening of ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ this Friday at St Michael’s Church, Brighton. If you haven’t already booked, be sure to do so – due the limited space, we often sell out at this venue, and this festive occasion looks like it will be no exception! Full details to book follow at the end of this post.

Its no secret that we’re huge Powell & Pressburger fans here at Filmspot, so we thought in preparation for ‘A Matter of Life and Death’, we’d provide a ‘beginner’s Guide’ of sorts with a taste of a few of The Archers’ greatest hits!

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)


This profoundly moving film is a portrait of a man who would on first glance be just a stuff British caricature (in fact, it was based on a satirical comic strip character created by David Low), but is in fact a true gentleman – and one of the most unexpectedly lovable characters in cinema.

Canterbury Tale (1944)

Both eerie and beautiful, this strange tale is one of Powell and Pressburger’s most intriguing films. The bucolic side of England is at the heart of this film, with some wonderful little vignettes of rural life, such as the small boy in the clip above.

I Know Where I’m Going! (1945)


A swooning love story – this is surely one of the very best British romantic films. Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey both give wonderful performances, while the rich cinematography really captures the essence of the Scottish Isles.


Black Narcissus (1947)


This is (with the exception of Powell’s solo work ‘Peeping Tom’) the most terrifying work by The Archers – and there are many instances of unexpected horror throughout their filmography. Kathleen Byron has a truly ghostly presence as a nun whose delusions and lust for the local British agent, Mr Dean, drive her insane; whilst Deborah Kerr’s conflicted Sister Superior attempts to ignore her own attraction to Mr Dean, and to forget her past life in Ireland. Stunning use of colour, and a ‘prince and the pauper’ subplot make this multi layered tale one of Powell and Pressburger’s most memorable films.

The Red Shoes (1948)


Arguably the most famous of Powell and Pressburger’s films, The Red Shoes almost needs no introduction. It is, in our opinion, the greatest ballet film of all time, with a fantastic cast of memorable characters (many of whom were professional dancers), stunning technicolour cinematography from Jack Cardiff and sweeping, tragic romance. If you haven’t seen this film: go and see it!

…but of course, before you dash out to pick up copies of all the films above – don’t forget to book your tickets to ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ at St Michael’s Church Hall, Brighton

Friday 2 December, doors open 7pm, for screening at 7.30pm
Tickets: £9 including a festive drink and seasonal snacks

Advance booking essential, there will not be tickets available at the door!
Tickets available from eventbrite – or by emailing info@lja.uk.com 

Screwball comedies

We’re getting prepared for our screening of Frank Capra’s lighthearted and endearing It Happened One Night, this Saturday. It’s part of our ongoing series for the CMPCA in Brighton, at St Michael’s Church Hall. There are a few tickets left, so for full details, please see our main website.

In the meantime, we’ve picked out five of our favourite screwball comedies (aside from It Happened One Night), to get you all in the mood:

 

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Frank Capra, the director of It Happened One Night hit gold with this dark, but delightfully silly screwball comedy featuring Cary Grant. Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, who discovers a corpse hidden in window box at the house of his two sweet, harmless aunts…

The Philadelphia Story (1940)

This classic is bring rereleased in cinemas by the BFI at the moment, so do look out for screenings of it locally. George Cukor’s sparkling film is regarded as one of the best examples of the popular ‘comedy of remarriage’ – a common theme from the ‘production code era, when depictions of extramarital affairs were prohibited – a couple divorce, flirt with outsiders and then remarry.

Top Hat (1935)

Probably the best known work to come from the dance partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, this musical has some some rather fun and dazzling set pieces. Irving Berlin wrote the music, with many of the songs now regarded as classics (such as ‘Cheek to Cheek’).

Design for Living (1933)

Ernst Lubitsch is the director most closely linked to the Screwball genre, and this quirky film is possibly his finest. Loosely based on a play of the same name by Noel Coward (who famously said “I’m told that there are three of my original lines left in the film—such original ones as ‘Pass the mustard'”), the film is surprising to today’s audience: it is much more racy than you would expect! It was made pre-code, and features a woman (Miriam Hopkins) leaving her husband for two  men (Frederic March and Gary Cooper).

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

Although not a hit on release (it did moderately well, but nothing to write home about), Howard Hawks’s Bringing up Baby is now widely regarded as a classic, and features on the AFI’s ‘100 Greatest American Films of All Time’ list. Katherine Hepburn is delightfully aggravating as a dotty heiress who turns the life of Cary Grant’s palaeontologist upside down.

 

2015: Filmspot’s planning a fun year!

Happy New Year, Filmspotters! We’ve been putting our programming hats on recently, and lots of exciting plans for 2015, so keep an eye on our website and blog for details. We’ve got some great cinema screenings, events and more workshops planned, so check back soon!

We are delighted to announce our first Filmspot of 2015:

Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Present ‘It Happened One Night’
21 February, doors 7pm for 7.30pm film

 We continue the popular series of film screenings with Frank Capra’s delightful It Happened One Night. Starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert this screwball romantic comedy was the first film to win ‘the big five’ Academy Awards (best picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay).

Here’s the ever-reliable Criteron Collection’s ‘Three Reasons’ to watch It Happened One Night:

A spoilt socialite, Ellie Andrews (Colbert) has married an opportunistic aviator against the wishes of her father, who keeps her prisoner on a yacht. Ellie escapes, swimming to shore, and plans to reunite with her husband. She manages to get onto a Greyhound bus destined for New York, where she meets Peter Warne (Gable), a newspaper reporter who was recently fired for drinking on the job. He strikes a deal with Ellie, agreeing to help reunite her with her husband, provided she gives him an exclusive story. As they travel towards New York, they get involved in a series of misadventures, and they begin to fall for each other.

This film set the pace for the ‘screwball’ comedy – and was one of the first ‘odd couple’ films, featuring the eventual romance between two people with very different personalities from different social stations. The film is as breezy, light and fun as it was on initial release, and represents a director and two actors all at their peaks!

Tickets £5 in advance (£6 on the door, subject to availability). Advance booking recommended, by emailing info@lja.uk.com or telephoning 01273 328683.

2014 round up

Last year was a great 5th year for Filmspot, featuring a programme of WWI films for Newhaven Fort, screenings of silent and cult films as part of the Scalarama Festival, outdoor screenings in Isfield, a screening for the hard of hearing in Seaford  and a continuing programme for the CMPCA in Brighton. We finished the year with a bang, though, with our first Filmspot Animation Workshop, at the Crypt Gallery, Seaford, as part of The Big Draw. We invited people to help us create a fantasy version of our local landscape, which we then brought to life by animating flick book animations also created by the participants. We are so pleased with the resulting film, which can be seen here:

Special thanks to everybody at the Crypt Gallery for being so supportive – we hope to bring some film and animation events to Seaford again very soon! Finally, thank you again to the wonderful Penguin Cafe for giving us permission to use their very uplifting track ‘Pale Peach Jukebox’ on the film.