The Small Back Room

After the lavish Technicolor spectacle of The Red Shoes, British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger retreated into the inward, shadowy recesses of this moody, crackling character study. Based on the acclaimed novel by Nigel Balchin, The Small Back Room details the professional and personal travails of troubled, alcoholic research scientist and military bomb-disposal expert Sammy Rice (David Farrar), who, while struggling with a complex relationship with secretary girlfriend Susan (Kathleen Byron), is hired by the government to advise on a dangerous new German weapon. Deftly mixing suspense and romance, The Small Back Room is an atmospheric, post–World War II gem.

Film Info

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary featuring film scholar Charles Barr
  • New video interview with cinematographer Christopher Challis
  • Excerpts from Michael Powell’s audio dictations for his autobiography
  • PLUS: A new essay by film critic Nick James

New cover by Sarah Habibi

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary featuring film scholar Charles Barr
  • New video interview with cinematographer Christopher Challis
  • Excerpts from Michael Powell’s audio dictations for his autobiography
  • PLUS: A new essay by film critic Nick James

New cover by Sarah Habibi

The Small Back Room
Cast
David Farrar
Sammy
Kathleen Byron
Susan
Jack Hawkins
Waring
Michael Gough
Stuart
Cyril Cusack
Taylor
Robert Morley
The minister
Credits
Director
Michael Powell
Written, produced, and directed by
Michael Powell
Based on the novel by
Nigel Balchin
Written, produced, and directed by
Emeric Pressburger
Supervising film editor
Reginald Mills
Production design
Hein Heckroth
Art director
John Hoesli
Sound
Alan Allen
Camera
Freddie Francis
Editing
Clifford Turner
Music
Brian Easdale
Cinematography
Christopher Challis
Director
Emeric Pressburger

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Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Writer, Producer, Director

Though The Red Shoes is possibly the most popular and visually entrancing dance film of all time, the producing, directing, and writing team of the British Michael Powell and the Hungarian Emeric Pressburger created numerous other odes to the power of art and the imagination, always going against the realist strain of British cinema. Known by the name of their production company, the Archers, Powell and Pressburger forged a working alliance that lasted from the late thirties to the early seventies, and from the anti-Nazi propaganda of 49th Parallel and the astoundingly designed and edited epic The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp to the erotic, magical excesses of A Canterbury Tale, I Know Where I’m Going!, Black Narcissus, and The Tales of Hoffmann. The duo were never as successful on their own as with each other, though Powell’s controversial Peeping Tom remains one of the most subversive and disturbing films ever made.