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A Life in Movies Paperback – October 16, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Powell; New ed edition (October 16, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571204317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571204311
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,403,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David G. Schindele on March 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a good read written by and about the life of one of the truly great movie directors. Along with Emeric Pressberger, Michael Powell created The Archers, whose movie productions were and are breathtaking in their daring cinematography and scoring. If you're not familiar with Powell's movies, you're in for a treat. I urge you to design your own Michael Powell film festival: Be sure to include The Thief of Baghdad, Stairway to Heaven (A Matter of Life and Death in Britain), The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and my personal favorite, I Know Where I'm Going. These are stunning works of art. Consider that they were filmed in cash-strapped postwar England, and you come away all the more amazed. Powell lost his career when he filmed Peeping Tom, a Hitchcockian thriller that upset critics with its psychosexual theme; his reputation was only rehabilitated by the intercession of such luminaries as Michael Scorsese during the 1980s. Powell lived a brash, full and vigorous life spiced with affairs with the likes of Deborah Kerr and the fascinating Pamela Brown. He dared the new, often endured hardship and even danger to catch what he wanted on film. He envisioned original and groundbreaking ideas, and then assembled teams that made them happen: A Himalayan garden in Kent for Black Narcissus, awesome outer space animation and the world's largest staircase for Stairway to Heaven, shooting I Know Where I'm Going without the leading man ever being on location. This book has been out of print for some time in hardcover. I've seen copies selling for hundreds of dollars. There is a reason! Now is your chance to enjoy the best words there are about Michael Powell--his own.
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A beautifully written account of a life dedicated to the making of films by a true Master of the medium. This book together with the other volume of his autobiography, Million Dollar Movie, gives the reader a wonderful insight into a very creative personality. Michael Powell recounts his life with charm, whimsy, wit and voluptuousness: a perfect picture of the man himself.
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Meet Michael Powell! The great and iconoclastic film direcotr of such classics as 'The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp"; "The

49th Parallel"; "The Canterbury Tales: "Black Narcissus": "Peeping Tom" and countless others tells the story of his long,productive and adventurous life (1905-1990).

Powell grew up in bucolic middle class farm life in Canterbury, Kent. His father divorced his mother moving to France following World War I. It was while staying with his father that Powell became involved in moviemaking as he joined the company led by director Rex Ingram on the French Riveria.

Powell later became associated with Alfred Hitchcock, Arthur

Rank, Michael Balcon and J. Arthur Rank . He made his first hit with his eccentric view of life in the Orkney islands in "The

Edge of the World."

Powell knew many of the great actors, directors and technicians who made the movies the folk tales of the 20th

century.

Powell's closest associate was the Hungarian writer Pressburg with whom he organized Archer Film Studios.One classic from this association was "The Red Shoes" which is arguably the finest ballet movie ever made!

Among other things Powell was:

a. A womanizer who wed several times and romanced the likes of actresses Deborah Kerr and Pamela Brown.

b. A novelist and a director who actually read books! His writing style is anecdotal and very readable!

c. Powell's love for film is manifest Even though British film culture turned its back on him following his controversial "Peeping Tom" in 1960 he never gave up his love for film, storytelling and art.

Powell is sadly little known on our side of the pond.
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Format: Paperback
No other biography i've read places the man himself before me, so evocative is it. In his films he chased and captured the wonder in all things, but his own writing does this more directly, a wonderful book. The life of the film maker from the 1920's onwards, and one who can fully express himself descriing the life, and equally great on his growing up towards film. The maker of wonders like A Canterbury Tale, Small Back Room, The Spy In Black and Peeping Tom achieved as much in this book.
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Format: Paperback
For those interested in British cinema, Michael Powell needs no introduction as one-half of the filmmaking team of "The Archers", with the emigre Hungarian Emeric Pressburger as the other half. This book, the first part of Powell's autobiography, goes up through the initial release of "The Red Shoes", makes for an entertaining journey through the early years of British cinema, from his apprenticeship with Alfred Hitchcock through his "quota quickie" years of honing his craft on British B-films. Powell knows how to tell a story well in rather amazing detail, as he claimed to have total recall.

However, on at least one detail, at the risk of sounding trivial, his memory didn't quite match. Example: about "The Red Shoes", he gives the full name of the conductor Livy (played by Esmond Knight) as "Sir Edmund Livingstone", whereas in one shot of the film, Livy's full name is actually "Mr. Livingstone Montague". On other points, one has to keep in mind his selective memory. For example, he chooses not to mention the name of his first wife from his very short-lived first marriage, basically saying that "Her name was - well, what does it matter?" and that they were young and foolish. (For the record, Powell's first wife was Gloria Mary Rouger.) Likewise, during the filming of "Black Narcissus", Powell didn't mention the name of the actress with whom he was having an affair, simply saying that "my two mistresses, one ex and one current, were both working for me in the same picture". The "ex" was Deborah Kerr, of course, while the "current" was Kathleen Byron, whom Powell more explicitly mentioned in volume two of his autobiography.
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