Up 23,032 this week

A Canterbury Tale (1944)

Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.6/10 from 3,117 users  
Reviews: 54 user | 34 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 »

0Check in

Watch Now

$0.00 with Prime Instant Video

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 22 titles
created 02 May 2011
list image
a list of 47 titles
created 04 Nov 2011
a list of 23 titles
created 31 Jan 2012
a list of 45 titles
created 15 Apr 2013
a list of 41 titles
created 1 month ago

Related Items

Connect with IMDb

Share this Rating

Title: A Canterbury Tale (1944)

A Canterbury Tale (1944) on IMDb 7.6/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of A Canterbury Tale.



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Fantasy | Music | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A melancholy poet reflects on three women he loved and lost in the past: a mechanical performing doll, a Venetian courtesan, and the consumptive daughter of a celebrated composer.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Moira Shearer, Robert Rounseville, Ludmilla Tchérina
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

From the Boer War through World War II, a soldier rises through the ranks in the British military.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Roger Livesey, Deborah Kerr, Anton Walbrook
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

When Nazi anti-aircraft fire damages a British bomber, its crew bails out and seeks help from the Dutch underground.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Godfrey Tearle, Eric Portman, Hugh Williams
Gone to Earth (1950)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A beautiful, superstitious, animal-loving Gypsy is hotly desired by a fox-hunting squire...even after she marries a clergyman.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Jennifer Jones, David Farrar, Cyril Cusack
Night Ambush (1957)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Led by British officers, partisans on Crete plan to kidnap the island's German commander and smuggle him to Cairo to embarrass the occupiers.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Dirk Bogarde, Marius Goring, David Oxley
Drama | Fantasy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A British wartime aviator who cheats death must argue for his life before a celestial court.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: David Niven, Kim Hunter, Robert Coote
Certificate: Passed Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A way of life is dying on an Outer Hebridean island fishing port, but some of the inhabitants resist evacuating to the mainland.

Director: Michael Powell
Stars: Niall MacGinnis, Belle Chrystall, John Laurie
The Red Shoes (1948)
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

A young ballet dancer is torn between the man she loves and her pursuit to become a prima ballerina.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring, Moira Shearer
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Deborah Kerr, David Farrar, Flora Robson
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

"Die Fledermaus" (The Bat) is the pseudonym adopted by Dr Falke. Floating on the buoyant waltzes of Strauss, this Viennese romp is sure to please. Disguises, tricks and every kind of ... See full summary »

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Anthony Quayle, Anton Walbrook, Dennis Price
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A re-editing of Gone to Earth (1950) after a disagreement and court case between director Michael Powell and producer David O. Selznick. Selznick's changes are mainly:- (1) Adding a ... See full summary »

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Jennifer Jones, David Farrar, Cyril Cusack
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A young couple attend a masked ball before their planned (but secret) elopement. Suddenly everything goes wrong when the young woman is attacked and held hostage by a crazed attacker.

Director: Michael Powell
Stars: Hugh Williams, Jane Baxter, Ronald Ward


Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Portman ...
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 ...
George Merritt ...
Ned Horton
Edward Rigby ...
Jim Horton
Freda Jackson ...
Prudence Honeywood
Betty Jardine ...
Fee Baker
Eliot Makeham ...
Harvey Golden ...
Sergt. Roczinsky
Leonard Smith ...
James Tamsitt ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Comedy | Drama | Mystery | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

21 January 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Canterbury mesék  »

Box Office


$650,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


James Tamsitt 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 Studio. But his new haircut didn't match the unruly mop he had in scenes filmed on location. So he had to wear a wig. See more »


Sergt. Roczinsky: Hey, let's have some tea first, huh?
Bob Johnson: That stuff?
Sergt. Roczinsky: Sure; it's a habit, like marijuana.
Bob Johnson: I'll take marijuana.
See more »


Featured in The Making of an Englishman (1995) See more »


Commando Patrol
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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Charm (Scarecrow Staked Here: spoilers herein)
5 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Although I've heard that Michael Powell chose, over a skirt-slashing Colpeper, to instead have him be The Glueman, his choice is, I think, serendipitous. The Glueman is not just the (superficially, as most post-modern critics mistake about him and about so many other characters in earlier films - about which more later) repressed sexual pervert Glueman, but he's also the Clueman. Yes, he's vaguely sinister, but he provides the glue that diverts the film's younger, war-preoccupied characters from their immediate concerns, and he suggests the clues that connect them to the heritage (some of us Yanks know the words of 'Land Of Hope And Glory' because England/Britain is undeniably, in many respects, our Mother Country) that has shaped them and made them who they are - and to the Civilization for which they're fighting.

Too many of today's critics obsess about the "Lesbian" farm woman whose character, in the 1940's, would have been ordinary and been regarded as being ordinary: a woman raised under the sterner discipline and mores of her day, with no-nonsense, no-b.s. values of virtue, obligation and hard work - and of getting to the point. It's postmodernists' affectation to automatically suspect doughty, matter-of-fact women characters - any eccentric women characters whom their postmodernist Miss Jean Brodie nonsense has bent them to suspect of fitting their screwy postmodernist (i.e., most often Marxisant, but often also Romantic) worldview - in earlier films of being "Lesbians." This woman is, consummately, a farmer who has to consider pragmatically what all farmers have always had to consider: how to smartly, efficiently work their land to its top yield against time and weather, pests and parasites, poachers and market conditions; there's nothing "Lesbian" about any of her singleminded agrarian pragmatism, or about her unremarkable - for her day - country ladies' sartorial choice, or even about her puffing a cigarette.

'A Canterbury Tale' isn't among the best of Powell & Pressburger's efforts; but it doesn't fall far short of their best. In a spot or two the plot plods, but then plodding was the pace of the Kentish countryside, so I think that it's only to our early third millennium sensibilities that it seems to plod. Seldom has black & white cinematography managed, as it manages here, to communicate through chiaroscuro the pilgrims' unease, and through the blessed splendor of sunlit, cloud-garlanded vistas of the Weald of Kent their respite.

As the Glueman strives to communicate the pace, sensibilities, and sensations of Chaucer's pilgrim's time, so too must we latter-day viewers accommodate our viewing of this film to the pace, sensibilities, and sensations of its period and setting: once we've done that - which demands of us no extraordinary effort - the legendary, enduring Powell & Pressburger magic works its spell.

From the outset I found Sergeant Sweet's unaffected acting well-suited to the storytelling. The Yanks whom Wartime Britons recall were probably more like Mike Roczinsky, yet among those "overpaid, overfed, oversexed, and over here" American "invaders," among all those "brown jobs," were young men quite like Sweet's Bob Johnson. Dennis Price's manner is a bit too aristocratic for his portrayal of a sergeant, but on the whole Price's thespian gifts help him to carry off his role very well. Sheila Sim gives a perfectly iconic portrayal of a young woman of her time: bereaved but not crushed; proud yet considerate; tender yet not mawkish; vulnerable yet capable. Eric Portman's Glueman is appropriately mysterious and mildly menacing and yet, in the ending we discover that he's all along been a benign agent of illumination, the neutral but never indifferent catalyst, the benevolent spur to the young people's sleuthing to know their present through their coming to touch their collective past; the Glueman is, if you think about his role in the narrative, rather God-like - or, if your prefer, rather Nature-like.

What's lovely about the dénouement here is that it enchants without indulging in sodden kitschiness, and indeed that it enchants in spite of of its scant kitschy elements. In the end the Glueman vanishes from the pilgrim's and our ken because he's accomplished his task of cluing and gluing the pilgrims to their past, to the mystical dimension of Being in their Own Time as that Being can only have come about by dint of their having touched their Past in their Present, which is the predicate of their harboring good hope for their Future. This message, to people whom wartime exigencies shifted brusquely about en masse as people had hitherto never shifted about, may have rung in 'A Canterbury Tale's' contemporary audiences a chord of sentimental longing and welcome reassurance.

This is a thoroughly English film best appreciated when one knows that Powell grew up in rural Kent and that he loved his home county's loveliness as only a native can and does love eternally his childhood home - and the verities it imparts early to him. In our present age of rapidly successive, plug-in and plug-out residential and professional transience - the first age of nigh-universal human rootlessness - 'A Canterbury Tale's' blessing is its acquainting us with our 1940's forebears' more permanent, more grounded sense of themselves and their place in the world and in time, a sense which they felt the war had put under threat and had hurled them and their world, willy-nilly, into unsettling uncertainty. It seems unlikely that we - our species - shall ever again know the quiet certainties, tranquility, and satisfaction of lifelong residence in, or near, our birthplaces. Until our time urgency meant for people something quite different from what urgency means for us. If people before our hyper-active, attention-deficited, more artificial time were not more "authentic," then they were certainly far less remote than we've become from Nature's cycles and temper.

'A Canterbury Tale's' charm is quiet, subtle, and in the end it's sensual, mystical, illuminating, and eternally dear. Pity that few have nowadays the time or the temper for such charm.

26 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
the roots of history : five layers of a perfect film mascisman
What's your favourite scene? emmas_place2003
Glue Man... SwissMiss21
Stuttering implies Village Idiot willieboyd2
Movie Shown in the Cathedral steve-butten
I spotted a goof sean-oconor
Discuss A Canterbury Tale (1944) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: