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I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING

Director: MICHAEL POWELL & EMERIC PRESSBURGER

91 minutes| U.K.| 1945| Black and White| D-Cinema


Paramount used to show this film to trainee screenwriters as an example of ‘the perfect screenplay’, and it’s not hard to see why. The protagonist, Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller), measures out an exemplary ‘character arc’ as she travels on the eve of marriage to the Scottish island of Mull, and adjusts her values accordingly; each night marks a stage in her physical and spiritual journey. But within this tight structure, the film gives us an extraordinary range of incidental pleasures, of diverting incident and Scottish landscape: apart from Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and indeed A Canterbury Tale, no film can have inspired so many reverential visits to its locations. Yet the male lead, Roger Livesey, had to shoot his scenes entirely in the studio at Pinewood, relying on a location ‘double’: this mix of vivid location and skilful studio contrivance is, again, typical of Powell. Like A Canterbury Tale, an intensely romantic film, but with a profoundly satisfying kiss at the climax.

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