It's great to read people mentioning Powell and Pressburger, I love their films.
CB asked: "Why did P&P stop making films together? I take it the split must have been amicable since "Peeping Tom" still carries the Archers logo. ("Peeping Tom" is one of my top 20 favourite films, unlike "Psycho" it edges out showmanship in favour of severe psychological creepiness)"
Agree about Peeping Tom . From all the accounts I've heard, P&P stopped making films together because they couldn't get the films made that they were both interested in. As far as I recall from Million-Dollar Movie, the second volume of Powell's autobiography, Pressburger had some ideas that Powell wasn't interested in, and vice versa, so that a film Pressburger wanted to make could get made, but Powell didn't want to make it, but a film they both wanted to make couldn't. It got to the point where (on returning to Rank, which they had previously left following it's takeover by John Davis, Rank's accountant) they had about three films on the schedule for the future, only one of which Powell was at all interested in. The split was amicable, and of course Pressburger later collaborated with Powell again on They're A Weird Mob , Powell's first Austrailian film and on Powell's last film (not counting the Return To The Edge Of The World documentary), The Boy Who Turned Yellow .
"And, if their films didn't make very much money, how come they were able to make so many? And lavishly produced ones, at that? Shooting in colour must have been very expensive in the 40's, particularly as I imagine the British film industry wasn't turning over numbers anywhere near Hollywood's."
Well, of course, it may depend on the definition of not making much money, to my knowledge one or two of their films were quite sucessful.
I think the seemingly lavish production was probably possible due, during most of their 40s period, to J. Arthur Rank's approach to film production: as far as I remember from Kevin MacDonald's Emeric Pressburger: The Life And Death Of A Screenwriter, Rank had an deal with them whereby "they'd make the pictures and he'd release them", effectively giving them a free hand (other groups had this kind of deal too, including Ronald Neame and David Lean's Cineguild, as part of the Indepedent Producers company formed by Rank, essentially an in-house indepedent company). This approach ended eventually though, due to large losses, and John Davis took over, at which point they moved to Korda's company. Most of the other Independent Producers member companies did the same, by all accounts. Rank had been quite a filmmaker's utopia though, while it lasted.
My 0.02 on P&P: Everything I've seen of theirs, I've loved. Powell alone is difficult, I haven't seen nearly enough of his. Peeping Tom of course is a unique masterpiece, disturbing, insightful, and haunting.
The Edge Of The World is beautiful, one of those rare films that evokes the feel of a place rather than simply documenting it.