Crown v. Stevens +
Behind the Mask

UK 1936, 65 mins
UK 1936, 55 mins
Director: Michael Powell

Crown v. Stevens was made by Michael Powell with an eye firmly set on the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, Crown proved to be his penultimate ‘quota’ film and the last of these that survives intact. His following assignment, The Man Behind The Mask was released only three weeks after Crown, and it importantly served as an introduction to producer Joe Rock, who would fund Powell’s first truly ‘personal’ project, The Edge of the World (1937).

Crown v. Stevens was one of five Powell films made for producer Irving Asher at Warner Brothers’ Teddington studios, and is a crime melodrama that, had it been made a few years later, would probably have been labeled a film noir.

Based on a recent novel by the popular and extremely prolific novelist Laurence Meynell (it had been published only a few months before production began), it tells the story of a naïve young man who becomes involved in the machinations of a murderous and ultimately unrepentant femme fatale, played with strength and conviction by Beatrix Thompson, a theatre actress in her only starring role for the cinema.

The rich cinematography is by Basil Emmott and the screenplay is a typically polished effort by Brock Williams; both also worked in the same capacities on three earlier films Powell had made for Asher: Something Always Happens (1933), and two currently ‘lost’ films, The Girl in the Crowd (1934) and Someday (1935). The Girl in the Crowd gave Googie Withersher first film role, and she turns up again in Crown, having great fun in a comic role as a breathless party girl with a lust for money, cigarettes and alcohol. The role of the ‘good’ woman is taken by the perky Glennis Lorrimer, who is rather charming in one of her last roles as Patric Knowles’ interior decorator girlfriend; Lorrimer is probably best remembered today as the Lady in the Gainsborough Studios’ opening logo. Although admittedly lightweight, in its ambiguous tone and suggestive cinematography, Crown recalls Powell’s superior Her Last Affaire (1935) and, with the latter, is notable as one of the few comparatively ‘dark’ films he made in this period.
Sergio Angelini, BFI Screenonline,

Behind the Mask
Crucial for being the film that introduced Powell to The Edge of the World producer Joe Rock, Powell’s final quota film was this bizarre thriller of masked balls, kidnapping and master criminals. It was long considered lost and listed on the BFI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list, but a 16mm print of a truncated version survived at the George Eastman Museum, and it is from that print that this new scan was taken.
James Bell,

Director: Michael Powell
Production Company: Joe Rock Productions
Producer: Joe Rock
Production Manager: Stanley Haynes
Screen Adaptation: Syd Courtenay, Jack Bird
Screen Adaptation: Stanley Haynes *
Dialogue: Ian Hay *
Original Novel by: Jacques Fitrelle
Photography: Ernest Palmer
Camera: Erwin Hillier
Focus Puller: Skeets Kelly *
Clapper/Loader: Geoff Bellhouse *
Editor: Sam Simmonds
Art Director: George Provis
Art Director: Andrew Mazzei *
Music Director: Cyril Ray
Recording: William H.O. Sweeney

Hugh Williams (Nicholas ‘Nick’ Barclay)
Jane Baxter (June Slade)
Donald Ward (Jimmy Slade)
Barbara Everest (Lady Slade)
George Merritt (inspector Mallory)
Henry Oscar (chief of International Police Bureau)
Reginald Tate (Hayden)
Kitty Kelly (Miss Weeks)
Donald Calthrop (Dr H.E. Walpole)
Ivor Barnard (Hewitt)
Hal Gordon (sergeant)
Syd Crossley (postman)
Maurice Schwartz (Melchior)
Peter Gawthorne (Earl of Slade) *
Esma Cannon (Emily, waitress) *
Wilfred Caithness (butler) *
Moyna Vawser (Nora) *
Cameron Hall

UK 1936
55 mins
Digital 4K

Remastering has been supported by Matt Spick and the Charles Skey Charitable Trust

Directed by: Michael Powell
©/Produced by: Warner Brothers First National Productions
Presented by: Warner Bros. Pictures Ltd.
Executive Producer: Irving Asher *
Screen Play: Brock Williams
From the novel Third Time Unlucky by: Lawrence Meynell
Photography: Basil Emmott
Editor: A. Bates
Art Direction: Peter Proud
Sound: Leslie Murray, H.C. Pearson
Sound System: Western Electric

Beatrix Thomson (Doris Stevens)
Patric Knowles (Chris Jansen)
Glennis Lorimer (Molly Hobbs)
Reginald Purdell (Alf)
Allan Jeayes (Inspector Carter)
Frederick Piper (Arthur Stevens)
Googie Withers (Ella Levine)
Mabel Poulton (Mamie)
Morris Harvey (Maurice Bayleck) *
Billy Watts (Joe Andrews) *
Davina Craig (Maggie the maid) *
Bernard Miles (Police Detective Wells) *

UK 1936
65 mins
Digital 4K

* Uncredited

The Small Back Room
Fri 1 Dec 18:10 (+ intro); Sun 10 Dec 18:30; Sat 16 Dec 20:45; Fri 22 Dec 18:20; Wed 27 Dec 20:30; Sat 30 Dec 15:00
Oh… Rosalinda!!
Sat 2 Dec 11:45; Wed 13 Dec 20:45
Lazybones + Her Last Affaire
Sat 2 Dec 15:20; Wed 20 Dec 17:50
The Love Test + Something Always Happens
Sun 3 Dec 15:30; Tue 19 Dec 20:20
Library Talk: The Glass Pearls
Mon 4 Dec 18:30 BFI Reuben Library
Wanted for Murder + intro by Simon McCallum, BFI curator
Mon 4 Dec 20:40
Projecting the Archive: The End of the River + intro by film scholar Dr Kulraj Phullar
Tue 5 Dec 18:20
The Phantom Light
Wed 6 Dec 20:30; Sun 17 Dec 12:30
Peeping Tom
Thu 7 Dec 20:45 (+ intro); Sat 9 Dec 15:00 (+ Doesn’t Exist magazine launch and panel discussion hosted by Victor Fraga); Fri 15 Dec 20:50; Mon 18 Dec 20:45; Thu 21 Dec 18:00; Sat 23 Dec 18:00; Fri 29 Dec 18:15
The Red Shoes
From Fri 8 Dec
The Red Shoes in the Spotlight
Fri 8 Dec 18:00
Bluebeard’s Castle (Herzog Blaubarts Burg)
Fri 8 Dec 20:40; Fri 15 Dec 18:10 (+ intro by writer Lillian Crawford); Sat 23 Dec 13:30
Crown v. Stevens + Behind the Mask (aka The Man Behind the Mask)
Sat 9 Dec 12:40; Sat 23 Dec 15:00
The Tales of Hoffmann
Sat 9 Dec 17:30; Tue 12 Dec 20:20 (+ intro by Andrew Moor, Manchester Metropolitan University); Sat 16 Dec 14:45; Sat 30 Dec 17:30
Honeymoon (Luna de miel)
Sun 10 Dec 13:25; Thu 28 Dec 20:40
Queering Powell + Pressburger
Tue 12 Dec 18:00
Experimenta: Michelle Williams Gamaker and Powell + Pressburger + Michelle Williams Gamaker in conversation with Dr Kulraj Phullar
Wed 13 Dec 18:05
They’re a Weird Mob
Sat 16 Dec 17:45; Fri 29 Dec 20:40
Espionage: Never Turn Your Back on a Friend / A Free Agent + intro
Sun 17 Dec 15:15
Age of Consent
Fri 22 Dec 20:45; Wed 27 Dec 18:15
A Matter of Life and Death
Sat 23 Dec 15:00 BFI IMAX
Black Narcissus
Sat 30 Dec 14:30 BFI IMAX

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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