A Canterbury Tale

A Canterbury Tale

Michael Powell (1944)

U Certificate


Our Score
This re-think of Chaucer from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger is the most peculiar piece of wartime propaganda ever devised. Two army sergeants (one British, one American) and a girl arrive at a Kentish village within praying distance of Canterbury, where the women fraternise with servicemen and one local pours glue into their hair as punishment. Our three modern pilgrims set out to find the perpetrator. While it's hard to convey the film's eerie shifts of mood, it impresses as a study of a community resistant to change. In the year of D-Day, Powell and Pressburger seem torn between welcoming American support and warning of a loss of traditional English values. This far-sighted film, which was dismissed at the time, is lyrical in its celebration of a disappearing England.


A land girl, an Army sergeant and a GI meet in a small Kent village during the Second World War and set out to unmask the mystery assailant conducting an unusual reign of terror against local women. Powell and Pressburger's mystery, starring Eric Portman, Sheila Sim, John Sweet, Esmond Knight and Dennis Price.

Cast & Crew

Thomas Colpepper Eric Portman
Alison Smith Sheila Sim
Bob Johnson John Sweet
Sergeant Peter Gibbs Dennis Price
Narrator / Seven-Sisters soldier / Village idiot Esmond Knight
Thomas Duckett Charles Hawtrey
Woodcock Hay Petrie
Ned Horton George Merritt (1)
Jim Horton Edward Rigby
Prudence Honeywood Freda Jackson
Fee Baker Betty Jardine
Organist Eliot Makeham
Director Michael Powell
Director Emeric Pressburger
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Other Information

Language: EnglishBlack and whiteTheatrical distributor: General Film Dist LtdAvailable on: video and DVD