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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 <email@example.com>
Local information from Orkney reports that it may have been the St Ola 1 that appeared in this film, apparently sunk by U29. In real life the St Ola 1 served the route Thurso to Stromness between 1892 and 1951, with a few cancellations in rough weather, for the safety and comfort of passengers. See more »
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 »
An unusual spy thriller in that the main characters are all German spies or collaborators. THE SPY IN BLACK is set in Orkney in 1917, where a German U-boat captain has been sent to infiltrate the locals in respect of a planned attack. He soon develops a relationship with a school teacher who's also working for the Germans, and the stage is set for the forthcoming assault on the British fleet nearby.
THE SPY IN BLACK offers far more than your usual war-time thriller, and it has a very interesting plot to boot. Michael Powell handles the direction superbly, crafting a fine-looking and atmospheric little thriller on what is obviously a low budget, and the small scale somehow adds to the effect. There are plenty of twists and turns in the short running time, many of which you won't see coming, alongside a ton of drama and incident.
Headlining the cast is German actor Conrad Veidt, still packing a strong presence some 20 years after his role in THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI. The supporting performers are equally effective, especially Sebastian Shaw as the turned British officer Ashington and Valerie Hobson as the spy-turned-schoolmistress. Altogether this is a highly effective thriller and one of the best of the decade.
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