Michael Powell - Biography

The son of Thomas William Powell & Mabel (nee Corbett). Michael Powell was always a self confessed movie addict. He was brought up partly in Canterbury ("The Garden of England") and partly in the South of France (where his parents ran an hotel). Educated at Kings School, Canterbury & Dulwich College he first worked at the National Provincial Bank from 1922 - 1925. In 1925 he joined Rex Ingram making Mare Nostrum (1926). He learnt his craft by working at various jobs in the (then) thriving English studios of Denham & Pinewood, working his way up to director on a series of "quota quickies" (Short films made to fulfil quota/tariff agreements between Britain & America in between the wars). Very rarely for the times he had a true "world view" and although in the mould of a classic English Gentleman he was always a citizen of the World. It was therefore very fitting that he should team up with an émigré Hungarian Jew Emeric Pressburger, a foreigner who understood the English better than they did themselves. Between them, under the banner of "The Archers" they shared joint credits for an important series of films through the 1940s & 1950s. Powell went on to make Le voyeur (1960) which was so slated by the critics at the time, he couldn't work in England, UK for a very long time. He was "re-discovered" in the late 1960s & after Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese tried to set up joint projects with him. In 1980, he lectured at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. He was Senior Director in Residence at Zoetrope studio in 1981. He married Thelma Schoonmaker. He died of cancer back in his beloved England in 1990.