In the early years of World War II, a German U-boat (U-37) sinks Allied shipping in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and then tries to evade Canadian Military Forces seeking to destroy it by sailing up to Hudson Bay. The U-boat's fanatical Nazi Captain sends some members of his crew to look for food and other supplies at a Hudson Bay Company outpost. No sooner than the shore party (lead by Lieutenant Hirth) reaches the shore, the U-boat is spotted and sunk by the Canadian Armed Forces, leaving the six members of the shore party stranded in Canada. The Nazi Lieutenant then starts to plan his crew's return to the Fatherland. He needs to reach the neutral U.S., or be captured. Along the way, they meet a variety of characters, each with their own views on the war and nationalism. In this movie, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger show their ideas of why the U.S. should join the Allied fight against the Nazis.Written by
Steve Crook <email@example.com>
The shots of the freighter sunk by the U-boat are clearly of two different vessels. (The first and third shots are of a ship with a large, rounded stern, while the ship seen in the second shot -- through the Germans' binoculars -- has a sharp, shallow stern. The funnels and some deck equipment are also different.) See more »
I see a long, straight line athwart a continent. No chain of forts, or deep flowing river, or mountain range, but a line drawn by men upon a map, nearly a century ago, accepted with a handshake, and kept ever since. A boundary which divides two nations, yet marks their friendly meeting ground. The 49th parallel: the only undefended frontier in the world.
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(opening dedication) This film is dedicated to the actors who believed in our story and came from all parts of the world to play in it. See more »
The original film shows Hirth standing in a crowd in the rain while a woman is reading the latest bulletins to the blind soldier; meanwhile the other two sell their binoculars for money to eat, after which Hirth tells them of his plan to walk to Vancouver to catch a Japanese freighter home, based on his visit to a travel bureau. But in the American film, the entire scene after the news bulletin part is cut out, which leads to an enormous amount of confusion. Until then the Germans had been making south for the US border; suddenly, with no explanation, they're shown hiking along the road headed west, only a few miles north of the border. (The overlaid maps confirm this.) This made no sense whatsoever, and until we finally saw the complete film it was the major lapse in the film's progression. See more »
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressberger's artistic collaboration at the start of WWII benefits from a powerhouse cast.
Clearly propaganda, the cast and crew apparently came from all parts of the world to lend their talents for a "mutual cause." With strains of Ralph Vaughn Williams's score woven into the cinematic fabric, Pressberger's elaborate story is expansive and involved.
The Oscar nominated film is worth watching, and it's interesting to see Raymond Massey's speech as a G.I. so very Yank-oriented, without a trace of the mannered style he later acquired. Leslie Howard is well cast as a poetic, philosophical dreamer. However, it's Anton Walbrook who really surprises with an uncharacteristic subtle naturalistic style.
This is apparently the project Elizabeth Bergner used to defect from Germany to the U.S., leaving the film for Hollywood (and Glynis Johns to take over the role). The actors playing Nazis are all quite strong.
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