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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:

Another Film of Unusual Merit! 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

Film debut for Sheila Sim. See more »

Quotes

Thomas Colpeper, JP: Pity.
Bob Johnson: Pity?
Thomas Colpeper, JP: Pity when you get home and people ask what you've seen in England and you say "Well I saw a movie in Salisbury. And I made a pilgrimage to Canterbury and I saw another one."
Bob Johnson: [laughs] You've got me all wrong. I know that in Canterbury I have to look out for a cathedral.
Thomas Colpeper, JP: Yes do look out for it. It's just behind the movie theatre. You can't miss it.
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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

Angelus ad Virginem
(uncredited)
Traditional
Heard as a peal of bells in the opening titles
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User Reviews

 
"Happy The Man ..." is me after watching this
30 May 2004 | by SpondonmanSee all my reviews

After a dozen viewings or so I still rate this as one of my Top 20 favourites, the passing of time doesn't seem to lessen its brilliance, if anything it improves with age. The Carlton budget DVD out at the moment makes the black and white photography gleam even more now, so I wonder why the BBC have always shown such an inferior copy.

ACT is a pleasant inconsequential masterpiece, with no heavy points to labour, no axes to grind and for wartime not too many flags to wave. But it leaves you wishing that Olde England could've been better preserved from the elected savages in charge of us since, and that perhaps it wasn't so surprising that people were ready to defend such a country and its lifestyles to the death. The only thing Chaucer inspired in me in all of his tales was the desire to reach the end of the journey.

The story? Mysterious fetishist keeps pouring glue onto unsuspecting girls heads at night - 3 intrepid souls determine to find and unmask the weirdo, but vacillate when their moment comes. The four main characters weave in and out of the tale, moving it forward gently to the rather grand climax. But what about the Glueman himself - did he go back home to his reprehensible pastime or did he meet a sticky end? Did Bob get his marijuana? Did they manage to get the moths out of Allison's caravan? Did Peter ever stop playing on his organ?

Refreshing: 1/ A platonic relationship between three handsome men and one beautiful woman. 2/ The most violent scene is where the troops burst out clapping the Sgt. who repaired the slide projector. 3/ A basic plot premise so flimsy and yet so captivating.

A most profitable way of spending two hours.


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