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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:

From the Powell-Pressburger team that gave you "Red Shoes" and "Stairway to Heaven" 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

Composer Allan Gray reused part of the score for one of his earlier Powell & Pressburger films, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943). The distinctive jazz trumpet of the tune heard in Blimp over the early dispatch rider scene is now used in the background in the scene in the Hand of Glory tavern when Sergeant Gibbs is telling Sergeant Johnson how he has identified the Glueman via the air raid warden timetable. 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 South Bank Show: Michael Powell (1986) See more »

Soundtracks

Angelus ad Virginem
(uncredited)
Traditional
Heard as a peal of bells in the opening titles
See more »

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User Reviews

a wartime fable for our times
8 October 2001 | by didi-5See all my reviews

Perhaps this is more significant now than ever, this quaint tale of wartime Canterbury and the ancient pilgrims whose presence is still felt. Some of the symbolism feels a little clunky - does the heroine really have to have travelled to Canterbury previously with her boyfriend 'Geoffrey' (i.e. a Chaucer reference) and why is the Glue Man so fixated on causing havoc in the blackouts? John Sweet's accent and acting has caused some other comments - I found his character jarred a little but somehow by the end, he fitted in. And the ending is curiously touching. The whole film has the usual touches of brilliance you would associate with Powell and Pressburger. Good stuff.


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