Michael Powell

Scen.: Michael Powell, Jerry Jackson. F.: Leslie Rowson. M.: Geoffrey Barkas. Scgf.: Alfred Junge. Int.: Leslie Banks (David Barr), Carol Goodner (June MacKinnon), Frank Vosper (Lord Dean), Alfred Drayton (Manning), Donald Calthrop (MacLeod), Allan Jeayes (Emerson), Campbell Gullan (Hannay), Percy Parsons (Casey), Fewlass Llewellyn (Sir Gregory). Prod.: Jerry Jackson per Gaumont-British. 35mm. D.: 66’. Bn.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Following three films made on the higher budgets offered by Michael Balcon at Gaumont-British, Powell returned to quota productions with Something Always Happens, shot at Teddington Studios for Warner Brothers, and among the best-received of all his Quota Quickies. “A very good comedy,” he wrote in A Life in Movies. “We played it all out for laughs and great speed, excellent dialogue. It was about a chap who never pays for anything.”
The freeloading chap is played by Ian Hunter, who when we meet him has just lost his shirt in an all-night card game. Out on the streets the morning after, he rescues a poor orphan boy from an irate market trader, and together they find a room in a boarding house. These early scenes have a verisimilitude that feels informed by the British Documentary Film Movement, and showcase one of the unheralded pleasures of the Quota Quickies: as with US Poverty Row titles, they often contain faces and accents seldom seen in higher-profile productions.
That aesthetic, however, gives way as the plot develops, after Hunter’s character romances Cynthia (Nancy O’Neil), not realising she is the daughter of thewealthy owner of a petrol-station company. When Peter takes a job with a rival, the stage is set for conflict. You’d be forgiven if that sounds closer to a Hollywood Screwball than a British B film: the story was lifted from the library of Warner Brothers’ American office, and brought to Britain by producer Irving Asher.
Powell welcomed the chance to work on scripts he saw as genuinely cinematic properties. As he wrote in A Life in Movies: “The quota-quickies that I made during the last months of my purgatory for the American Irving Asher… were a damn sight more honest and more entertaining, because they were not trying to be anything but what they were, and they were tailored from first-class scripts …. This was how tight little dramas like my Crown v Stevens, or comedies like Something Always Happens or Someday… arrived on the British screen.”

James Bell

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