Set not in the 14th century milieu of Geoffrey Chaucer but in wartime Britain, A Canterbury Tale begins with rural justice of the peace Eric Portman adopting a "lock up your daughters" policy when the American soldiers are stationed nearby. To escape the arbitrary edicts of Portman, British tank sergeant Dennis Price, American GI John Sweet and shopkeeper Sheila Sim head down the road to Canterbury. Each of the principals finds their lives changed by the journey. In particular, Sweet (a real-life American sergeant, rather than the usual stereotyped "yank" common to British war films) encounters genuine romance. A product of the always adventuresome "Archers" (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger), A Canterbury Tale contains some extremely creative cinematic moments, though it is the quieter scenes which work best. Esmond Knight narrates the film and shows up in a couple of amusing cameos. A ubiquitous presence on American TV, Canterbury Tale is available in two versions; the American release version, cut from 124 to 95 minutes and including several arbitrary scenes with Kim Hunter, is the lesser of the two.
by Hal Erickson synopsis