Twice upon a Time (1953) Powell + Pressburger Season

November 7th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Emeric Pressburger | Cast: Hugh Williams, Elizabeth Allan, Jack Hawkins, Yolande Larthe | Drama 85′

After filming wrapped in 1953 Emeric Pressburger never wanted to think about Twice Upon A Time again, so onerous was the task of making it. The same fate had befallen such cinematic Cinderellas as Hitchcock’s Waltzes from Vienna and Bergman’s It Can’t Happen Here.

Based on the novel by Erich Kastner – originally filmed in 1950 and remade by Disney eight years later as The Parent Trap – it’s a far more succinct drama that avoids the initial enmity that wasted so much time in the later film.

Michael Powell never bothered to watch Twice Upon a Time, Pressburger never mentioned it again, and it was not included in the National Film Theatre’s Powell & Pressburger retrospective of 1978. Kevin Macdonald (in his 1994 biography) declared that “Today no print of Twice Upon a Time is available” and there isn’t a single review on the IMDb. This means that the  screening at BFI Southbank on 6th November 2023 was the first in seventy years.

As for the film itself it comes as a charming surprise: Beautifully shot on location by Christopher Challis with characteristically whimsical narration by Jack Hawkins who also stars as Dr Mathews. @RichardChattten


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