Road Rash Reviews

The Small Back Room (Vintage Classics) Review****-

Cert PG | 108 mins | 2024

4 star restoration of an intelligent and riveting wartime drama.

The Small Back Room is a 1949 British romantic thriller, written and directed by the brilliant team of Michael Powell (Peeping Tom, The Queen’s Guards) and Emeric Pressburger ( Gone To Earth, Night Ambush). It is based on the 1943 novel of the same name by Nigel Balchin (Mine Own Executioner).

It is available to own now in the UK on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, courtesy of STUDIOCANAL Vintage Classics.

“Heaven make me patient. Have you ever fired at a tank?…Well, they move, don’t they? They crawl about, they zigzag. The don’t like being shot at.”

It’s springtime in London, 1943, and Captain Stuart (Michael GoughHorrors of the Black Museum, Batman) is heading over to the back room research section headed up by Professor Mair (Milton Rosmer – Silent Barriers, The Challenge). His task is to enlist help in investigating a worrying new tactic from the Germans, who he suspects are dropping booby traps from planes.

He is pointed in the direction  of Sammie Rice (David Farrar РBlack Narcissus, I Accuse!), a deeply troubled but highly talented scientist, working on the evaluation of new weapons. He is in constant pain due to a prosthetic limb which he hates and resentful of the world as a consequence, relying heavily on whisky to dull the pain. He feels unworthy of long suffering girlfriend Susan (Kathleen Byron РSaving Private Ryan, Emma), who also works in the department as a secretary.

His investigation is hampered at every turn by bureaucracy and poor management as the different departments struggle against each other and the red tape which surrounds them. Can he cut through all the difficulties and work out what the Germans are up to?

“I take things from you with both hands. I always have. I always will. I keep kicking this foot of mine. When I have a bad patch, I like someone to flutter around, so that I can be a perfect swine to them.”

The Small Back Room is a brilliant film, which has stood the test of time admirably. It offers fascinating insights into a part of the war effort which is less documented, the work of the scientists in the ‘back rooms’, whose hard work helped the soldiers in the field.

A big spotlight is held up to office politics and how dangerous they can be, especially when the military is involved. It also takes a good look at other issues, such as depression and addiction and does so in admirably unflinching fashion.

This is a good quality restoration, which highlights the stunning and dramatic cinematography and brooding atmosphere of the film. With new special features, this is an excellent package and well worth adding to your collection.  

“Yes, you’ve got it all worked out in the way women always have. They don’t worry about anything except being alive or dead.”

The Small Back Room is available now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital

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DirectorMichael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
GenreDrama, romance, thriller
StarringDavid Farrar, Kathleen Byron, Jack Hawkins, Michael Gough, Sidney James
Available to buy on : Own The Small Back Room (Vintage Classics) on DVD Own The Small Back Room (Vintage Classics) on Blu-Ray
Category: Blu-ray, Digital, dvd, film, Review