The Small Back Room

The Small Back Room is a film by the British producer-writer-director team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger starring David Farrar and Kathleen Byron and featuring Jack Hawkins and Cyril Cusack. It was based on the novel of the same name by Nigel Balchin. In the United States the film was released as Hour of Glory.


Sammy Rice (David Farrar) is a scientist working with a specialist "back room" team during World War II. He is brought in to solve the problem of booby-trapped devices being dropped from Nazi bombers. But Sammy and his girl-friend Susan (Kathleen Byron) have to overcome some problems with bureaucracy as well as the pills and booze that Sammy takes to control the pain caused by his artificial foot.


Cast notes:

  • Bryan Forbes, the noted screenwriter, director and actor, made his screen debut in The Small Back Room playing "Peterson", a dying gunner.
  • Robert Morley appears as a minister, billed as "A Guest".
  • Patrick Macnee, who became well-known playing "John Steed" on The Avengers, plays the uncredited role of a man at a committee meeting, his fourth film appearance.
  • Bandleader Ted Heath appears, uncredited, as a band leader.


The Small Back Room marked the return of Powell and Pressburger to Alexander Korda after a profitable but somewhat contentious time at The Rank Organisation. The film was shot at a number of studio: London Film Studios in Iselworth, Middlesex; Worton Hall Studios, also in Isleworth; and Shepperton Studios in Shepperton, Surrey. Location shooting took place at Chesil Bank and St. Catherine's Chapel in Dorset; Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain; and on the Victoria Embankment in London.

The book and film are credited for popularising the terms Boffin and Backroom boys.

Awards and honors

The Small Back Room was nominated for a BAFTA Award as "Best British Film".

DVD Details

Region 1

Release date 19 August
Label The Criterion Collection

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • Audio commentary featuring film scholar Charles Barr
  • New video interview with cinematographer Christopher Challis
  • Excerpts from Michael Powell's audio dictations for his autobiography
  • PLUS: A new essay by film critic Nick James
  • Subtitles

Region 2

Release date 31 May
Label Studio Canal / Warner Home Video
Extras None


External links

DVD Reviews

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