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A Matter of Life and Death

A Matter of Life and Death(1946)


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  • For the table tennis scene, 'Hunter, Kim' and Roger Livesey were trained by Alan Brooke, the British champion who played many games with International Champion Victor Barna. During a visit to Denham Studios the two champions played a couple of games before an admiring audience of artists and technicians. For luck, Hunter borrowed one of Brooke's tournament bats for her film game.
  • 'Powell, Michael' 's golden cocker spaniels Erik and Spangle make their fourth and final appearance on film in Dr. Reeves' Camera Obscura.
  • The huge escalator linking this World with the Other, called "Operation Ethel" by the firm of engineers who constructed her under the aegis of the London Passenger Transport Board, took three months to make and cost 3,000 pounds (in 1946). "Ethel" had 106 steps each 20 feet wide and was driven by a 12 h.p. engine. The full shot was completed by hanging miniatures.
  • The backcloth of the High Court scene, suggesting tiers of seats stretching into infinity, measured 350 feet long and 40 feet high. Altogether 8 backcloths of similar large dimensions were used in Other World scenes, and 29 elaborate sets were constructed. In all these vast scenes 5,375 crowd artistes were used, including real R.A.F. crews, Red Cross nurses and W.A.A.C.s.
  • The inspiration for Peter's medical condition came from the semi-autobiographical novel "A Journey Round My Skull" by Hungarian novelist Frigyes Karinthy. More precise medical detail came from Emeric Pressburger's research in the British Library and consultations with 'Powell, Michael' 's brother in law, Dr. Joe Reidy, who was a plastic surgeon in London.
  • It was during a visit to Hollywood in 1945 that director Michael Powell decided to cast the then-unknown Kim Hunter as June, the American servicewoman, largely upon the recommendation of Alfred Hitchcock, who had done a series of screen tests of actors and actresses auditioning for parts in his upcoming production, "Notorious." Trouble was that in these tests, Hunter was not seen but, rather, heard off-camera, feeding lines and cues to the actors Hitchcock was actually testing. But Hitchcock assured Powell that he would arrange a "face-to-face" with Hunter and her agent, so that he could see for himself whether she fit the requirements of the "all-American" girl Powell had envisioned opposite David Niven. And upon first encountering Hunter, Powell agreed with Hitchcock that she indeed was a perfect choice for the role.

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