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About this collection

Arguably Britain’s greatest production designer, Alfred Junge (1886–1964) was born in Germany and spent his teenage years working as an apprentice to a painter. At 18 he was “kissed by the Muse” and began working in theater, painting sets, designing costumes, and operating special effects. In the late 1920s he began working with British International Pictures and later Gaumont British where he gained a reputation not only for his brilliant designs but also for his organizational skills in running a large staff of art directors and craftsmen.

Junge’s best-known film work is on Black Narcissus (1947), the story of emotional tensions among a group of Anglican nuns who try to establish a convent in the remote reaches of the Himalayas. Director Michael Powell gave Junge unusual freedom in terms of color, composition, and technique, and Junge received the Academy Award for Best Art Direction for the film in 1947. Audiences are still surprised to learn that the film was not shot on location in the Himalayas but on sound stages in England.

The Alfred Junge collection at the Ransom Center consists of over 170 original designs and 5,000 stills and design photographs made for British films from 1920 to 1960.  This digital selection focuses on his fruitful collaborations with Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, including Contraband (1940), The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), "I Know Where I'm Going!" (1945), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), and Black Narcissus (1947).

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