This review was sent to me by James Howard, the author:
‘I Live Cinema: The Life and Films of Michael Powell’ (available via Amazon) covers the entire career of possibly Britain’s greatest film director of the 1940s, from its very beginnings as a ‘Grip’ with the Rex Ingram company in France to his work as stills photographer for Alfred Hitchcock, early screenplays and the 23 films he directed in England between 1932 and 1937, here analysed in detail for the first time.
In 1939, Powell was introduced to the screenwriter Emeric Pressburger by Alexander Korda with the intention that they produce a suitable vehicle forConrad Veidt – then under contract to Korda but not having made a film in two years. The result – The Spy in Black – established Powell and Pressburger as a formidable duo and was considered by many to be Conrad Veidt’s finest British film to date. Together with costar Valerie Hobson, Powell, Pressburger and Veidt quickly reteamed on the successful Contraband (Blackout) before Conrad set to work on The Thief of Bagdad, with Powell as one of its three named directors.
The production was to take the star to Hollywood, as Powell and Pressburger remained in England where they formed The Archers and produced a series of dazzlingly original movies throughout the 1940s including 49th Parallel, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, A Matter of Life and Death, Black Narcissus and The Red Shoes. Going their separate ways in the mid 1950s, Powell worked in television and the theatre (both here covered in depth for the first time) as well as continuing in the cinema with the once-notorious Peeping Tom, thought by many to have ended his career in Britain.
Many exclusive interviews and contributions from associates round out a solid and comprehensive picture of a man whose films continue to be rediscovered and re-evaluated almost 70 years after they were first shown, with biographies of all the significant players in Powell’s career, chapters on his groundbreaking use of music in film and a review of the many other projects that remained unmade.
400 pages with many rare and unpublished illustrations.