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The Spy in Black (1939)

 -  Thriller | War  -  7 October 1939 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 889 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 20 critic

A German submarine is sent to the Orkney Isles in 1917 to sink the British fleet.

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(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Captain Hardt
Sebastian Shaw ...
Ashington
...
The School Mistress
Marius Goring ...
Schuster
...
Anne Burnett
Athole Stewart ...
The Rev. Hector Matthews
Agnes Lauchlan ...
Mrs. Matthews
Helen Haye ...
Mrs. Sedley
Cyril Raymond ...
The Rev. John Harris
George Summers ...
Captain Ratter
Hay Petrie ...
Engineer
Grant Sutherland ...
Bob Bratt
Robert Rendel ...
Admiral
Mary Morris ...
Chauffeuse
Margaret Moffatt ...
Kate
Edit

Storyline

When a German U-Boat captain is sent on a spying mission to the North of Scotland during World War One, he finds more than he bargained for in his contact, the local schoolmistress. Written by Ian Harries <ih@doc.ic.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Out of Europe's Blackout of Peace ... Flames the Inside Story of Submarine Warfare and International Espionage See more »

Genres:

Thriller | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Spy in Black  »

Box Office

Budget:

£47,300 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

St Magnus (the name of the steamer sailing from Longhope for St Romness and Thurso during the closing stages of the film) is the Patron Saint of Orkney. There have been several ships in that area with the name St Magnus. See more »

Goofs

Identified in the credits and on her passport signature as "Anne Burnett", the newspaper report of the teachers' Orkneys appointment misnames her as "Ann Burnett", though this passes entirely without comment. See more »

Quotes

The Reverand John Harris: That medal ribbon. I don't seem to recognise it. What is it?
Captain Hardt: The Iron Cross... Second Class.
The Reverand John Harris: Second Class... then you must be a prisoner of war?
Captain Hardt: No.
[draws gun]
Captain Hardt: You are.
The Reverand John Harris: Oh dear.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: KIEL BASE OF THE GERMAN GRAND FLEET 1917 See more »

Connections

Featured in The Making of an Englishman (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Spying Game
9 March 2008 | by (Derby, UK) – See all my reviews

A deceptively and beautifully simple little film, a great start for the Powell and Pressburger collaboration, and good British propaganda fun too. Much too simple for most people today who would miss colour, violence, depravity, unfathomable plot and shaky camera work in their spy films.

Austere devilishly handsome German U Boat captain Conrad Veidt has convoluted spying mission in 1917 Scotland to locate the British fleet but finds himself being sidetracked with schoolmistress contact Valerie Hobson and the availability of butter. But even though WW1 is portrayed as more "civilised" than the coming war as in Colonel Blimp, oil and water must always remain just so. There's a fine cast of British stalwarts for example the seemingly legless Hay Petrie, some eccentric most with secrets, and high production values generally disguising occasionally flimsy sets and occasional implausibility. Rosza's music was high class too, nicely complementing the nitrate black and white film stock, which unfortunately has been allowed to deteriorate over the years but sometimes unintentionally lets you believe it really is 1917 and not 1939. As with Colonel Blimp 4 years later the German viewpoint with a sympathetic lead is told with a seeming impartiality, but after all there wasn't any doubt about the outcome. Even Chamberlain might've been hard to appease if Veidt's plans had been shown to bear fruit!

Throwaway - so why can't I throw it away? Entertaining, engrossing, amusing, nothing very heavy and even on the verge of war not a big flag-waver, so it's just the type of film I enjoy.


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