Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 10. June 1st, 1950
Film Review... — The Small Dark Room
The Small Dark Room
Question. What is the "Small Dark Room?
Answer. No, It's not what you think it is at all; the trouble is that you've been reading too much of this year's Cappicade. Mind you, it does bear a general resemblance in parts. The blokes who inhabit the Small Dark Room are specialists. . .
Q. . . . I told you so!
A. . . . not so fast—they are specialists scientists who help the war effort.
Q. And how do they do this?
A. Well they spend a lot of their time gazing at bottles of whisky and wishing that they could be drowning their sorrows in drink.
Q. What are all the sorrows about?
A. Well there is a girlfriend ( her proper name is Kathleen Byron, and it did seem a pity to waste her on something like this) and her main job to help win the war is to see that her man ain't too tight to work.
Q. What sort of scientists are they?
A. As one of the characters says, they're "frightfully hush hush. . . but they do investigate mysterious bombs which drop and blow Innocent children and soldiers to pieces.
Q. Is that all they do?
A. Well they do take parts in surrealist sequenced with giant bottles and superb superimposition and things.
A. Mostly because Nigel Balchin stressed the diplomaniac side of it, and Powell and Pressburger once paid 1/6 to see Billy Wilder's "Lost Weekend" and they couldn't resist having a scene like this in it.
Q. Is the Small Dark Room really small and dark?
A. Well, as for the darkness, unfortunately not enough, but it certainly isn't small—it's 9600 feet long.
Q. Doesn't seem too small.
A. No, but it could well have been reduced after the quite good scene on the beach which almost makes the film worth while, because like "Red Shoes" Powell and Pressburger didn't know when the end should come.
Q. There, I said it had something to do with the other sort of small room.
A. Yes, anyone would have thought that it would have been obvious where the end should have gone.
Q. How did it end, anyway?
A. Well it spent most of it's time in putting down the spirits rather than raising them, but at the end Sammy looks over his girl friend's shoulder after having been made a major and renounces the whisky and he's going to start a research unit for Leslie Banks. . . . .
Q. Wat's he doing there?
A. Hiding behind a moustache looking fearfully military, but don't interrupt, and Sammy is going to squash that frightful advertising man and stop Taylor from being shifted away and have his leg fixed up and stop knocking over the lamp and busting photos with pokers. . . .
Q. Hey! Wait a moment What have all this to do with Winning the War in the Small Dark Room?
A. We didn't know and neither did the film.—Jiminy Critic.