StudioCanal Blu-ray Film Review

The Small Back Room (1949) • Blu-ray [StudioCanal, Vintage Classics] — Powell & Pressburger’s forgotten WWII drama

A troubled scientist in wartime England has to contend with his personal demons at the same time as a mysterious new German weapon

Barnaby Page
Frame Rated
Published in
13 min readJun 8, 2024

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CComing directly after much more famous films like A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), The Small Back Room (also known as Hour of Glory in the US) stands as a testament to the writing, directing and producing team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger at their height, yet it remains comparatively unknown. Like many of their movies, it’s an idiosyncratic yet (mostly) successful assembly of relatively familiar elements woven together in novel ways — blending the comic and the deadly serious, social commentary with a deep emotional human story — but it’s also lower-budget smaller-scale, less flashy, and darker (even noir-ish) than the movies it followed.

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Barnaby Page
Frame Rated

Barnaby is a journalist based in Suffolk, UK. By day he covers science and public policy; by night, film and classical music. He has also been a cinema manager.