The Small Back Room

Watch The Small Back Room

  • Approved
  • 1949
  • 1 hr 42 min
  • 7.1  (3,076)

The Small Back Room is a 1949 British film directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, and features an ensemble cast led by David Farrar, Jack Hawkins, and Kathleen Byron. The movie was adapted from the novel of the same name written by Nigel Balchin. The film follows the story of Sammy Rice (David Farrar), a scientist working for the British military during World War II. Sammy is tasked with developing a new type of bomb to combat the Germans. However, he is plagued with personal problems, including his relationship with his girlfriend Susan (Kathleen Byron), his addiction to alcohol, and a physical disability that causes him excruciating pain.

Sammy's job is to investigate why the Germans have been so successful at preventing the British bombs from exploding. The Germans have been using a new type of fuse, designed to destroy the bomb before it can explode. Sammy discovers that the fuse contains a hidden mechanism that causes it to detonate if it is exposed to any liquids. He then sets about designing a new type of bomb that will take advantage of this vulnerability, and sets out to test his creation and destroy the German ammunition dumps.

The movie is known for its vivid portrayal of the pressure faced by scientists and other technologists who work on developing weapons, and the immense pressure that can come with such responsibilities. The main character, Sammy Rice, struggles with these pressures constantly throughout the film, as he is constantly being pushed to develop new technologies faster than he can deliver.

The film also excels at portraying the bleakness and uncertainty of wartime Britain, with its atmospheric cinematography and realistic depiction of life during the Blitz. The small back room of the title refers to the tiny, cramped workspace where Sammy and his team are forced to work under intense pressure.

The acting in The Small Back Room is top-notch, with David Farrar delivering a standout performance as the emotionally and physically struggling scientist. Jack Hawkins is also excellent as Sammy's military superior, Col. Waring, who encourages him to keep working despite the extreme pressure.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of The Small Back Room is the way that it manages to balance its themes of wartime pressure and anxiety with moments of levity and humor. The film pokes fun at the often-ridiculous bureaucratic demands placed on scientists and military personnel, and manages to convey a sense of hope and humanity in the midst of turmoil.

The Small Back Room was initially released to mixed reviews, some of which criticized it for being overly grim and slow-paced. However, the film has since become recognized as one of Powell and Pressburger's most underrated works, and is regarded as a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of the impacts that war can have on individuals and society as a whole.

Overall, The Small Back Room is a must-see for fans of classic British cinema, and a compelling exploration of the pressures that individuals face when working on technology that can change the course of history.

The Small Back Room is a 1949 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 42 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1.

The Small Back Room
Where to Watch The Small Back Room
The Small Back Room is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Small Back Room for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 42 min
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (3,076)