Red Ensign (film)
Red Ensign Video Cover
|Directed by||Michael Powell|
|Produced by||Michael Balcon|
|Written by||Jerome Jackson
L. du Garde Peach
|Edited by||Geoffrey Barkas|
|Distributed by||Gaumont British Picture Corporation Ltd|
David Barr is the manager and chief designer of a British shipyard who comes up with a radical new design for ships, at a time when the industry as a whole is in recession. He struggles to find financial backing from his company, banks or investors, and is driven to desperate ends to try to complete the ship. As well as technical and financial difficulties Barr also has to struggle against the machinations of rival shipbuilders and infiltrating militants.
Powell's 12th film in four years, and perhaps his most memorable one in that period. "It was the first time that Michael Powell himself realised that there was something special about a Michael Powell film, something going on on the screen, or behind the screen, which you couldn't put your finger on, something intriguing, aloof, but in the long run memorable."
The character of David Barr is seen as an early precursor of Powell's own alter-ego in Michael Powell films such as Eric Portman's Colpeper in A Canterbury Tale (1944) and Roger Livesey's Dr Reeves in A Matter of Life and Death (1946). Indeed the whole film is seen as a parallel with the struggles of a young bold film director, and a plea for a strong British film industry. The strong crusading tone of the film prefigures Powell's wartime propaganda films such as 49th Parallel and Contraband. A minor character is pointedly called 'Grierson' after the celebrated documentary maker John Grierson. This character is described as 'the best rivetter in the yard' who 'taught me [Barr] everything I know'. This scene is immediately followed with one of Barr firing a 'militant' worker intent on provoking industrial strife in the yard.
- Leslie Banks as David Barr
- Carol Goodner as June MacKinnon
- Frank Vosper as Lord Dean
- Alfred Drayton as Manning
- Donald Calthrop as MacLeod
- Allan Jeayes as Emerson aka Grierson
- Campbell Gullan as Hannay
- Percy Parsons as Casey
- Fewlass Llewellyn as Sir Gregory
- Henry Oscar as Raglan
- John Laurie as Wages accountant
- Henry Caine as Bassett (uncredited)
- George Carney as Mr. Lindsey (uncredited)
- Jack Lambert as Police Inspector (uncredited)
- Frederick Piper as Mr. McWilliams (uncredited)
- Jack Raine as Testing Official (uncredited)
The film has been released on Region 2 DVD by Opening in the "Les films de ma vie" series. The DVD has fixed French subtitles for the original English soundtrack.
- Red Ensign at the Internet Movie Database
- Red Ensign at AllMovie
- Red Ensign reviews and articles at the Powell & Pressburger Pages
- Red Ensign at the British Film Institute's Screenonline. Full synopsis and film stills (and clips viewable from UK libraries).