I love Powell and Pressburger films, but does anyone know the extent to which Michael Powell worked on this movie?
In Powell’s autobiography, ‘A Life in Movies’ he indicates that there were other Director’s of the movie. His direction focused on scenes with Conrad Veidt and Sabu. He also mentions that having Director credits were important in the competitive movie business and could be parlayed into increased power and prestige. This was accepted form. He also indicates that Alexander Korda directed some scenes without credit. (page 385 and others)
The Thief Of Bagdad certainly has the feel of a multi-director film; it’s unity seems to come from the art direction and the wardrobe rather than a directorial cohesion. It’s one of the least interesting works in his canon; the recent Criterion release of ‘The Small Back Room’ was a great Powell discovery for me.
Sorry to come to this late…. I’m a huge Powell fan… and some of the lesser knowns hold great joys for me. The Edge of the World, is almost a documentary of the passing of a way of life, crossed with an old folk legend… it’s amazing. Equally ‘The Wild Heart’ which they made while fending off Selznicks attentions as it starred his then wife Jennifer Jones… It’s top shelf stuff and should be re-discovered in the way Peeping Tom was I think.
Just looked this up. In the book Michael Powell: Interviews by David Lazar, Michael Powell says: “I took charge of almost all the exteriors, all of the scenes with Conrad Veidt, all of the big scenes.”
When pressed further to what specific scenes he shot, Powell said: “A certain number of very visual and decorative scenes like the arrival of a boat, all of these wide-eyed shots. Tim Whelan especially specialized in action sequences. I don’t know for sure who filmed what.”
It’s a shame we don’t know who filmed what scene, but I think the whole film really comes together beautifully.