Berlinale: Programme

Film file


The Small Back Room

Experten aus dem Hinterzimmer

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London, 1943: Before he was wounded in the war, Sammy Rice was considered one of the best explosives experts in the Royal Army. He now relies on an artificial leg and belongs to a civilian think tank. A frustrated loner, he not only picks a quarrel with his superior by speaking out against a type of weapon favoured by the latter, but also causes Susan, his girlfriend, to suffer from his moods. She is the secretary of the team of experts, who lives with him secretly. Sammy, too, is fighting a desperate battle against alcoholism, which culminates in a famous Caligari-like nightmare sequence staged by Hein Heckroth. Just as Sammy appears to have lost this battle, he is ordered to defuse a mine, whose perfidious construction has already cost the life of one of his colleagues ... In his civilian war drama, the team of Powell and Pressburger create the psychogramm of a broken hero. At the same time, the film shows a great lack of respect towards people in positions of authority by ridiculing a finance minister who has never seen an automatic calculator in his life, and at a ministerial hearing that is constantly “sabotaged” by the noise of a pneumatic hammer.

United Kingdom 1949, 106 min


Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger


David Farrar
Kathleen Byron
Jack Hawkins
Leslie Banks