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Powell and Pressburger’s
THE SMALL BACK ROOM

Friday, June 28 – Thursday, July 4

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NEW 4K RESTORATION

U.K., 1949
Written and Directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
With David Farrar, Kathleen Byron, Jack Hawkins, Cyril Cusack
Approx. 105 min. DCP.


In London, bomb disposal expert David Farrar (BLACK NARCISSUS), part of a WWII “back room” team and embittered by a prosthetic leg, battles the bottle (visualized with a tour de force German Expressionism-inspired delirium fantasy sequence) while struggling with his bosses — including British cinema stalwart Jack Hawkins (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA) — and a strained relationship with lover Kathleen Byron (BLACK NARCISSUS, A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH), until he’s faced with the ultimate challenge: a seemingly unbeatable German booby trap on a gravelly beach in Dorset.

Following their sumptuous Technicolor box office sensation THE RED SHOES, the British filmmaking team of Michael Powell (1905-1990) and Emeric Pressburger (1902-1988) returned to scaled down, classic romantic suspense, and the moody black & white of their earlier work. Critically acclaimed, THE SMALL BACK ROOM was nominated for a BAFTA as Best British Film of its year, but, as Powell wrote in his memoir Million Dollar Movie, “The public stayed away. They refused to accept that it was a love story. It was a war film. And war films were out—O-U-T.” In the ensuing decades, though, THE SMALL BACK ROOM has risen to the very top of Powell & Pressburger’s filmography. In an interview with French director Bertrand Tavernier, Powell said of it, “I think this is my best film.” 

The new 4K restoration of THE SMALL BACK ROOM is a collaboration of Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation and the BFI National Archive, in association with Studiocanal. Mr. Scorsese and his longtime film editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who was married to Michael Powell from 1984 until his death in 1990, served as consultants on the restoration. Following the opening night screening, Ms. Schoonmaker will appear in person for a conversation with director/writer/critic Kent Jones (HITCHOCK/TRUFFAUT, DIANE).

Restored by The Film Foundation and BFI National Archive in association with Studiocanal. Special thanks to Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker for their consultation.

A RIALTO PICTURES RELEASE

Trailer

THE SMALL BACK ROOM

Opens Friday, June 28

Reviews

“The strength and confidence in Powell and Pressburger’s film-making is a pleasure — as is their distinctive love of adventure and romance.”
— Peter Bradshow, The Guardian

Film Forum