Michael Powell

30.09.1905, Bekesbourne, Great Britain - 19.02.1990, Avening, Great Britain



Michael Powell is a British director, producer, scriptwriter and writer. He studied at Dulwich College after which he found a job in a bank. In 1926 director Harry Lachman got him a job in the film crew of Rex Ingram's film Mare Nostrum. Lachman introduced him to the British cinema and he started
working for him in the Elstree Studios. At that time he also cooperated with the famous Alfred Hitchcock. In 1931 he took on directing. By 1940 he got himself a name with low budget movies of various genres. After The Edge of the World (1937) Powell joined scriptwriter Emeric Pressburger on the film The Spy in Black. Powell shot another two movies on his own, among which
was the lavish Thief of Baghdad, 1940. Powell and Pressburger became associates in 1941 and founded production studio The Archers in 1943. Powell stood out as director, while Pressburger was a more dominant scriptwriter. Their most famous creations were The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), A Canterbury Tale (1944), I Know Where I'm Going (1945), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947), Red Shoes (1948), Gone to Earth (1948), Small Back Room (1949), and Tales of Hoffmann (1951). After several commercial failures, in 1956 Powell decided to go his own way. In 1960 he shot his most important film, Peeping Tom. After 1974 he withdrew from the movies, but continued
directing on the TV and published several novels. From 1944 to 1952 he did some stage directing. For a short period he acted as an artistic consultant and production manager of Francis Ford Coppola's production studio Zoetrope (after 1980).


Return to the Edge of the World (1978)
The Boy Who Turned Yellow (1972)
Age of Consent (1969)
They're a Weird Mob (1966)
Herzog Blaubarts Burg (1964)
The Queen's Guards (1961)
Peeping Tom (1960)
Luna de miel (1959)
Ill Met by Moonlight (1957)
The Battle of the River Plate (1956)
Oh... Rosalinda!! (1955)
The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1955)
The Wild Heart (1952)
The Tales of Hoffmann (1951)
Gone to Earth (1950)
The Elusive Pimpernel (1950)
The Small Back Room (1949)
The Red Shoes (1948)
Black Narcissus (1947)
A Matter of Life and Death (1946)
I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)
A Canterbury Tale (1944)
The Volunteer (1943)
The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943)
One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942)
An Airman's Letter to His Mother (1941)
Forty-Ninth Parallel (1941)
Contraband (1940)
The Thief of Bagdad (1940)
Smith (1939)
The Lion Has Wings (1939)
The Spy in Black (1939)
The Edge of the World (1937)
The Man Behind the Mask (1936)
Crown Vs. Stevens (1936)
The Brown Wallet (1936)
Her Last Affaire (1936)
Some Day (1935)
The Price of a Song (1935)
The Phantom Light (1935)
The Night of the Party (1935)
The Love Test (1935)
Lazybones (1935)
Red Ensign (1935)
The Girl in the Crowd (1935)
Something Always Happens (1934)
The Fire Raisers (1934)
Born Lucky (1933)
His Lordship (1932)
C.O.D. (1932)
Hotel Splendide (1932)
The Star Reporter (1932)
Rynox (1932)
The Rasp (1932)
My Friend the King (1932)
Two Crowded Hours (1931)


Films by this director

49th Parallel


Directed by: Michael Powell
PHOTOGRAPHY: Freddie Young

At the beginning of World War II a damaged German U-boat gets stranded in the St Lawrence bay near Canada. The crew led by the fanatic nazi commander has to reach the territory of the still-neutral United States of America.

b/w, 107 min

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

(UK, 1943)

Directed by: Michael Powell
PHOTOGRAPHY: Georges Périnal

It is a story about Clive Candy, elderly British colonel, who fought in three wars, loved three women and formed an unbreakable friendship behind the enemy lines. During the Boer War he was sent to Berlin to catch a German spy. He became friends with a German officer Theo who married the girl Candy fell in love with. During World War I Candy married a girl who reminded him of his love from Berlin and helped Theo – a prisoner of war – return to his homeland. Their next meeting took place during...

color, 163'

A Canterbury Tale

(UK, 1944)

Directed by: Michael Powell
PHOTOGRAPHY: Erwin Hillier

A girl and two men arrive in a village in southern England. The girl is Alison Smith – a girl from London who got a job at the farm 'Land Girl'. The two men are Peter Gibbs – an Englishman who got drafted and has taken several days 'for himself' before he goes off to war and Bob Johnson – the American sergeant who was on his way to Canterbury and came to the village by mistake. On their way to the village Alison is attacked by the Glue Man, the attacker who pours glue on the hair of women. Peter...

b/w, 124'

I Know Where I'm Going

(UK, 1945)

Directed by: Michael Powell
PHOTOGRAPHY: Erwin Hillier

Joan Webster is a very modern woman. She has her life carefully planned out from a very young age. She gets engaged to a rich industrialist who has taken a lease on an island in the Hebrides, near Scotland. The life she discovers there is totally different from what she is used to. The girl who decided to marry for money slowly starts to wander if she really knows where she is going…

b/w, 91'

A Matter of Life and Death

(UK, 1946)

Directed by: Michael Powell

Returning from an assignment in May of 1945, Peter Carter's plane is damaged. His crew have either gotten killed during the mission or have jumped out with parachutes. He gets on the radio and talks to June, an American working for the RAF, and they are quite moved by each other's voices. Carter decides to jump out with no parachute and quite unexpectedly survives. This offers him a chance to pursue the romance with the radio girl with whom he had shared his last words. However, officials in hea...

color and b/w, 104'

Black Narcissus

(UK, 1947)

Directed by: Michael Powell

Anglican nuns led by Sister Clodagh are trying to establish a religious community in the Himalayas. The mission is a true test of strength because they have to 'fight' distrustful locals along with their own demons… The film is an adaptation of Rumep Godden's novel. This melodrama won two Oscars in 1984.

color, 101'

The Red Shoes

(UK, 1948)

Directed by: Michael Powell

A romantic and tragic story about a brilliant young dancer who has to give up everything in order to become a great ballerina… The film is based on the story of the famous writer Hans Christian Andersen. It also won two Oscars and is one of the most popular films made by the Powell-Pressburger pair.

color, 134'
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