7.0/10
1,497
17 user 23 critic

The Spy in Black (1939)

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

Director:

Writers:

(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Blackout (1940)
Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Early in World War II, Danish sea captain Andersen, delayed in a British port, tangles with German spies.

Director: Michael Powell
Stars: Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Hay Petrie
Certificate: Passed Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A way of life is dying on an Outer Hebridean island fishing port, but some of the inhabitants resist evacuating to the mainland.

Director: Michael Powell
Stars: Niall MacGinnis, Belle Chrystall, John Laurie
Hour of Glory (1949)
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

As the Germans drop explosive booby-traps on Britain in 1943, the embittered expert who'll have to disarm them fights a private battle with alcohol.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: David Farrar, Jack Hawkins, Kathleen Byron
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Alexander Korda's bit for the British war effort shows the world both at peace and on the verge of Nazi domination. Spliced together to form a documentary style film of both newsreel and ... See full summary »

Directors: Adrian Brunel, Brian Desmond Hurst, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Merle Oberon, Ralph Richardson, June Duprez
49th Parallel (1941)
Drama | War | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A World War II U-boat crew are stranded in northern Canada. To avoid internment, they must make their way to the border and get into the still-neutral USA.

Director: Michael Powell
Stars: Leslie Howard, Laurence Olivier, Richard George
Comedy | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Three modern day pilgrims investigate a bizarre crime in a small town on the way to Canterbury.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Eric Portman, Sheila Sim, Dennis Price
Comedy | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

A quirky British secret service man named Major Hammond tries to discover who is using a secret weapon to steal experimental planes.

Directors: Tim Whelan, Arthur B. Woods
Stars: Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Valerie Hobson
The Volunteer (1944)
War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

After a masterful performance as Othello in a London theater, Ralph Richardson is asked for an autograph by Fred, his dresser. A short while later, Fred has joined the Fleet Air Arm (Fly ... See full summary »

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Ralph Richardson, Pat McGrath, Anna Neagle
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A young Englishwoman goes to the Hebrides to marry her older, wealthier fiancé. When the weather keeps them separated on different islands, she begins to have second thoughts.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Wendy Hiller, Roger Livesey, George Carney
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A British aristocrat goes in disguise to France to rescue people from The Terror of the guillotine.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: David Niven, Margaret Leighton, Cyril Cusack
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

When Nazi anti-aircraft fire damages a British bomber, its crew bails out and seeks help from the Dutch underground.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Godfrey Tearle, Eric Portman, Hugh Williams
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A lighthouse keeper has been murdered in mysterious circumstances and, during the ensuing investigation a Phantom Light keeps appearing at the scene of his death.

Director: Michael Powell
Stars: Binnie Hale, Gordon Harker, Donald Calthrop
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Anne Burnett
Athole Stewart ...
The Rev. Hector Matthews
Agnes Lauchlan ...
Mrs. Matthews
...
Mrs. Sedley
Cyril Raymond ...
George Summers ...
Captain Ratter
Hay Petrie ...
Grant Sutherland ...
Bob Bratt
Robert Rendel ...
Admiral
...
Chauffeuse
Margaret Moffat ...
Kate (as Margaret Moffatt)
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:

TODAY'S U-BOAT TERROR MAKES THIS THE YEAR'S TIMELIEST PICTURE! See more »

Genres:

Thriller | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

7 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Spy in Black  »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

£47,300 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more 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

In the German submarine, the officers refer to depths in feet, and the depth gauge is calibrated in feet. On a German ship, depths would be measured in meters. 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

The distributor in the film's opening credits is shown as: KEY TO SUCCESS Key Films Distributors Ltd. presents See more »

Connections

Featured in Arena: A Pretty British Affair (1981) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

The first Powell-Pressburger collaboration
5 November 1999 | by See all my reviews

This is an entertaining, well-made spy adventure set during World War I. Although made 60 years ago, the film has a sophisticated approach to the relationship between its three main characters. In particular, the natural attraction between the parts played by Conrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson is portrayed believably. Many of the supporting characters are also interesting; look out for Hay Petrie as the Scottish engineer aboard a ferry and an early appearance by Bernard Miles as a hotel desk clerk. Unlike the majority of British movies of this period, the film doesn't stereotype or make fun of its working-class characters.

The story has several good twists and an ironic climax. There are also some improbable coincidences, but no more than the typical James Bond movie.

Unlike Bond, however, "The Spy in Black" adopts a quite dark tone in its final 20 minutes. There is an almost tragic dignity and regret in the final scenes.

Director Michael Powell composes some interestingly-framed shots that make good use of Vincent Korda's sets. One of his favourite devices is to set a key character in sharp focus in the background while lesser parts stand or move slightly out-of-focus in the foreground. The effect is often quite striking.

This film marks Powell's first collaboration with the Hungarian writer Emeric Pressburger. The maturity of the romance between the leads and the snappiness of the dialogue are probably attributable to Pressburger's European upbringing.

Despite its age, "The Spy in Black" is well worth seeing just for the simple pleasures of a well-made entertainment executed with a little more care and imagination than usual.


44 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 17 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page