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A Canterbury Tale (1944)

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 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:

A modern story of an American in England 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

By 2004 the shop window overlooking the street from which John Sweet watches the parade in the film's final scene (adjacent to the Cathedral) belonged to a Starbucks. See more »

Quotes

Prudence Honeywood: That's your room. You won't get much of a view I'm afraid.
Alison Smith: You should have seen the view from my room in London.
Prudence Honeywood: Was it a long street with every house a different sort of sadness in it?
Alison Smith: It was a long row of back gardens, and the tall, sad houses were all the same.
Prudence Honeywood: Ghastly in winter.
Alison Smith: Airless in summer. You seem to know them.
Prudence Honeywood: The only man who ever asked me to marry him wanted me to live in a house like that. I'm still a maid.
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 inserted:
  • A scene between Bob () and his new bride 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

Referenced in Days of Heaven (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Come to the Church in the Wild Wood
(uncredited)
Written by William S. Pitts
Sung by John Sweet as he washes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Perhaps the best "war" film ever made.
14 March 2002 | by PetemcgSee all my reviews

My first amazed viewing of this spiritually uplifting film was on a wet Sunday afternoon about fifteen years ago. I was thoroughly depressed for various reasons, but by the end of this movie, the entire world had subtly transformed itself. The delivery of the "message" of this film may seem, to modern audiences, naively done, but its power to move surely remains as robustly valid today as it must have been to audiences in war-torn Britain. (I have not seen the American version.)This is a feel-good film of the very first order.

The photography is geared towards presenting the glory of the English countryside, and beautifully conveys an England which was fast disappearing by the time war broke out. Watch especially for the shots of Alison on the downs just after looking towards Canterbury. Gorgeous!

You will either love or hate this film, but you MUST see it if you have not already done so. I've just bought it on DVD, and am ditching various copies taped from TV over the years.

PS: If anyone with any influence at Carlton reads this, please urgently consider transcribing "I Know Where I'm Going" - another fine Powell/Pressburger movie - onto DVD.


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