Photo of Michael Powell Michael Powell

Born Sept. 30, 1905, in Kent, England, director Michael Powell got his start working for noted silent-film director Rex Ingram. Honing his directing chops by churning out a raft of "quota quickies" -- short films made to fulfill quota/tariff agreements between Britain and America between the wars -- Powell quickly became one of England's most prominent filmmakers.

In 1939, Powell met screenwriter and producer Emeric Pressburger while working on The Spy in Black, and together, the two went on to make 19 films, the best of which -- such as Oscar nominees The Red Shoes and 49th Parallel -- are considered classics of British cinema.

Powell's career came to an abrupt end, however, in the early 1960s when his psychological thriller Peeping Tom met with an excoriating response from audiences and critics. He died Feb. 9, 1990.

Michael Powell in 49th Parallel

49th Parallel

1941 NR

The great Laurence Olivier leads an impressive cast in this wartime thriller about a Nazi U-boat crew stranded in Canada during World War II. Led by the fanatical Lt. Hirth (Eric Portman), the crew finds refuge in a small rural community while planning an escape across the border of the still neutral United States. An early work from British director Michael Powell, the film was seen as a propaganda piece urging America to join the Allied effort.

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