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A Canterbury Tale (1944)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 2,945 users  
Reviews: 54 user | 32 critic

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... See full summary »

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Title: A Canterbury Tale (1944)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Portman ...
Thomas Colpeper, JP
Sheila Sim ...
Alison Smith
...
Peter Gibbs
John Sweet ...
Bob Johnson (as Sergt. John Sweet U.S. Army)
...
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 ...
Fee Baker
Eliot Makeham ...
Organist
Harvey Golden ...
Sergt. Roczinsky
Leonard Smith ...
Leslie
James Tamsitt ...
Terry
Edit

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

Plot Keywords:

glue | village | soldier | magistrate | england | See more »

Taglines:

Four modern pilgrims in a story of today - yet away from war.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Mystery | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 January 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Canterbury mesék  »

Box Office

Budget:

$650,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Powell and Pressburger had originally planned to use Burgess Meredith in the role of Sgt. Bob Johnson, but changed their mind in favour of an unknown. Meredith acted as a script editor for Johnson's character. See more »

Quotes

Thomas Colpeper, JP: [hidden in the tall grass] Glorious, isn't it?
Alison Smith: [startled] Is anybody there?
Thomas Colpeper, JP: [standing] It's a real voice you heard. You're not dreaming.
Alison Smith: You know, just now I - I heard sounds.
Thomas Colpeper, JP: What sounds did you hear?
Alison Smith: Horses' hooves, voices, and a lute. Or an instrument like a lute. Did you hear anything?
Thomas Colpeper, JP: Those sounds come from inside, not outside. Then only when you're concentrating, when you believe strongly in something. Just now I was concentrating on who was coming up the hill to disturb me.
Alison Smith: Disturb you? At ...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in A Canterbury Trail (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Onward Christian Soldiers
(uncredited)
Music by Arthur Sullivan
Lyrics by Sabine Baring-Gould
Sung in the cathedral
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the best, from two of the best filmmakers, ever.
30 July 2006 | by (Jackson Heights, NY) – See all my reviews

Here's another rich and wonderful piece of movie-making from the Powell/Pressburger team--as well as a lovely little time capsule of WWII Britain: the land girls, small town England, and what real patriotism is all about (unlike the sleazy variety much of America and some of Britain are currently experiencing). Made in 1944, while the war still raged, A CANTERBURY TALE is a discovery as good as anything I've seen from this amazing film-making team. Beginning with a lovely link to Chaucer's tales, it uses a marvelous quick cut between like objects that may remind you of something Stanley Kubrick is now heralded for doing (nearly a quarter-century later!), it then moves ahead to tell the story of four people whose paths cross to a purpose.

Full of quiet surprise and a lead character (Colpeper) who is enormously problematic, the film makes you look, listen, think and feel intently. (For me, cinema can't provide much more.) As the movie seems to meander along, it is actually picking up an enormous head of steam which will--at the end--let loose a blast of patriotism, pride, beauty, sound, architecture and spirituality. Regarding the latter, I do not refer to the fact that the finale is set in a cathedral--as beautiful and symbolic as this one may be. This film rises above any stricture of creed because of the honest humanism of its creators.

This is a "war film," as it appears from the view of civilians who remain at home. Among other things, it shows that, while a civilian population in wartime must give up a great deal, the rewards can be commensurate. (Concerning Iraq, this is something Americans at home have not yet begun to learn or do.) This astonishing film stands, after more than sixty years, as one of those rewards.


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