The best bomb disposal officer during World War II was badly injured and is in frequent pain. He finds solace and relief from his pain in the whisky bottle & the pills that are never far away. A new type of booby trapped bomb push his nerves & resolution to the limit.Written by
Steve Crook <email@example.com>
A little over 75 minutes into the film, during the scene where the character of Sammy Rice trashes his sitting room, the shadow of the boom mic can be seen reflected in the empty picture frame in the foreground of the shot. See more »
Wouldn't it be silly to break up something we both like doing, only because you think I don't like it.
Yes, you've got it all worked out in the way women always have. They don't worry about anything except being alive or dead.
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The films of Michael Powell feature quite prominently in the list of greatest British films list . BLACK NARCISSUS , THE RED SHOES , THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP and A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH all feature there somewhere . This film called THE SMALL BACK ROOM is constantly ignored for some reason , perhaps the fact it's in black and white might have a lot to do with it but is certainly of the best films in Powell's resume
Perhaps this fact that it is shot in black and white works in its favour ? In some ways it's a different take on film noir . David Farrar plays Sammy Rice a scientist working for the war office and finds himself besieged on all sides by marketing agents who want to win government contracts for new weapons even though these weapons are nowhere near as effective as the marketing men claim . What the film does brilliantly is taking us in to the tortured psyche of Rice who knows fine well that this will cost the lives of young men who have to fight the war against Nazi Germany with these weapons
In film noir the protagonist is portrayed as a flawed anti-hero and in the case of Rice he's flawed both physically and mentally . He has a foot missing which has been replaced by a tin one that causes him pain which has led to an addiction for pain killers which don't work except to feed his addiction . Rice also has a sometimes addiction to alcohol and Powell shows his expressionistic influences by a quite breath taking sequence where Rice has to literally fight his addiction . The entire film benefits greatly from the cinematography of Christopher Challis that any director of film noir would kill for
One other overlooked aspect to THE SMALL BACK ROOM that you would never get in an American movie is the " joint effort " portrayal of the allies . Churchill summed up allied victory as being won by " American money , British courage and Soviet blood " a somewhat simplistic sound bite but the fact is it was a broad coalition of many countries and of many brave young people who can claim the victory for defeating Nazi Germany and it's nice to see a film open with a British officer finding himself surrounded by servicemen from America , Poland and France . Believe me you wouldn't get that in a 21st Century American film
THE SMALL BACK ROOM remains one of the best films Powell made . Like the cosmopolitan coalition who beat the Nazis there's a lot of factors as to why it's a good movie . If you're expecting a war film then that's not what you're going to get because it's a journey through the psyche of a tortured man with the burden of a world at war on his shoulders and the film is good at portraying this on screen and contains some excellent cinematography
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