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A Canterbury Tale (1944)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Mystery | 21 January 1949 (USA)
Three modern day pilgrims investigate a bizarre crime in a small town on the way to Canterbury.
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Cast

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Mystery | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 January 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Canterbury mesék See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$650,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gone with the Wind (1939) author Margaret Mitchell was on her way to see a showing of this film with her husband when she was hit by a speeding car. She was knocked out, and died five days later, having never recovered consciousness. See more »

Quotes

Alison Smith: Did you hear the news about last night Mr. Horton?
Jim Horton: There wasn't nothing on the wireless.
Alison Smith: No I didn't mean that sort of news. I meant what happened here last night.
Ned Horton: We get all our local news at 6 o'clock, Miss.
Bob Johnson: You got a local newspaper?
Ned Horton: No. That's when the pub opens.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The original UK version runs 124 minutes. For the USA release, the film was re-edited to 95-minutes and new footage starring Kim Hunter inserted:
  • A scene between Bob (John Sweet) and his new bride Kim Hunter on the Rockefeller Center introduces the story which he then tells in flashback.
  • The idyllic scenes with the boys' river battle and much of the hunt for the glue-man is cut with addition scenes or commentary by Bob added to cover the gaps.
  • There is an additional epilogue with Bob and his girl at the tea-rooms in Canterbury.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Turkey in the Straw
(uncredited)
Traditional
Heard as Agnes leaves Bob's bedroom
See more »

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User Reviews

Neither here nor there
27 December 2003 | by symmachosSee all my reviews

Some of the Archers' films have moved and delighted me -- BLACK NARCISSUS, THE RED SHOES. Others have interested me but left me rather cold -- PEEPING TOM, TALES OF HOFFMANN. This one falls right in the middle. The wartime milieu, the surprisingly *dark* nighttime photography, the central characters, the supporting cast of Kentish country folk -- all these engaged me for about the first hour of the movie. But in the second hour, as the "Glue Man" theme became increasingly worn out and the prospect of "miracles" in Canterbury loomed larger, I felt more and more detached from the proceedings. Especially unwelcome was the churchy quality of the denouement. Still, I have no argument with the commenters who have praised the film so highly. So let me turn the denouement of my own commentary into a list of the positive impressions that stayed with me after "The End" appeared so unexpectedly on the screen.

First -- I loved the camaraderie that developed immediately among all the ordinary folks thrown together and forced to work as teammates for the common cause. (If war is good for anything, it must be that.) Second -- I liked the tall skinny American soldier and the difficulties and simple pleasures he found among the Brits -- I've been there, done that, and P&P captured the feeling very nicely. (Note: Bob Johnson's accent is quite authentic for a rural Oregonian, so stop complaining, you funny Commonwealth lot!). Third -- I enjoyed every minute that Sheila Sim was on camera. Finally -- that cut in the prologue, from the hawk to the fighter plane, was excellent indeed. (And yes, I'd bet my piggy bank that Stanley Kubrick got his idea for the bone-to-space station cut in 2001 from this very film.)

But wait, I realize that I do have to register one last complaint. I love black & white movies, so much that whenever I hear twentysomething kids whine that they can only watch movies in color, I am nauseated. And yet -- I wager that any filmmakers who purport to represent the beauty of the Kentish countryside on a summer day will truly achieve their goal only if they film in color. England's green and pleasant land just can't be painted in shades of gray.


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