Blackout (1940)
"Contraband" (original title)

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



(original story & screenplay), (scenario), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hay Petrie ...
Axel Skold / Erik Skold
Joss Ambler ...
Lt. Cmdr. Ashton, RNR
Raymond Lovell ...
Van Dyne
Charles Victor ...
Phoebe Kershaw ...
Miss Lang
Harold Warrender ...
Lt. Cmdr. Ellis, RN
Passport Officer
Eric Maturin ...
Passport Officer
Paddy Browne ...
Singer in 'Regency'
Henry Wolston ...
First Danish Waiter
Julian Vedey ...
Second Danish Waiter
Sydney Moncton ...
Third Danish Waiter


This is the tale of life in a British port in the first year of World War II. Spies and smugglers abound in the blackout and unreal shore life of the "phoney war" (before the shooting started). Written by Steve Crook <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Stop that man and woman! His mission is deadlier than that of the enemy in the sky. Her beauty is a dangerous weapon of war!


Adventure | Romance


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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

29 November 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Blackout  »

Box Office


£47,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The first film that Deborah Kerr worked on. She played a cigarette girl in one of the nightclubs visited. But although she impressed everyone, her scene ended up on the cutting room floor. See more »


Captain Anderson: The bigger the ship, the smaller the adventure. The smaller the ship, the bigger the adventure. But you wouldn't understand that. Because you have childish ideas about life. Because like so many women you live only for little excitements like, er...
Mrs.Sorensen: Like what?
Captain Anderson: Well, like going out every night, somewhere new, somebody new. Right?
See more »

Crazy Credits

"White Negro" caberet designed & executed by Hedley Briggs. See more »


References Spies (1928) See more »


Face in the Crowd
Music by Richard Addinsell
Lyrics by Nicholas Phipps
See more »

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User Reviews

Strange and v ....
23 August 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Just watched this on TCM, where it appeared in their day-long tribute to Veidt - parenthetically, their August programs featuring one actor per day have unearthed some marvelous stuff (eg, early Ann Dvorak). TCM aired it as "Contraband", the original British title - and it's a very British piece indeed. The plot is complex & often nonsensical, but I don't think one ever watches Michael Powell films for tidy screenplays. Veidt and Hobson encounter one another on his ship, and then whiz across London, first pursuing/eluding one another, then working together to undo a German spy ring. Much hugger-mugger, with a multitude of British character actors working in blackout darkness and then brightly-lit, often chaotic interiors (train compartments, restaurants, ship's lounges, nightclubs, elevators ....) Veidt and Hobson are charming in tandem, with a grownup sexual tension that for this viewer was a striking contrast to the more standard youthful leads of that time (and ours). As other commenters have noted, the filmmakers include a subtle thread of delight in bondage, mild fetishism, etc (eg,Hobson's shoes & feet during her captivity). Ah, the British. Clearly made on a budget, the entire production nonetheless looks & feels terrific - gritty shipboard all-male scenes, a couple of nightclub production numbers that have to be seen to be believed, a swell Art Deco townhouse - and underneath it all, maneuvering through the London blackout as a necessary given, a condition of life that the Brits seem to take for granted as the darkest days of the war approach. I had never seen Veidt so sympathetic - here a memorable leading man, versus his more well-know villains..And I was until now unfamiliar with Hay Petrie, here in a double role as Veidt's shipboard second-in-command, and that character's brother, a volatile (& hilarious) Danish restaurateur (don't ask!) All in all - a delight.

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