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Blackout (1940)
"Contraband" (original title)

7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 626 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 9 critic

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

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(original story & screenplay), (scenario), 1 more credit »
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Title: Blackout (1940)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Capt. Andersen
...
Mrs.Sorensen
Hay Petrie ...
Axel Skold / Erik Skold
Joss Ambler ...
Lt. Cmdr. Ashton, RNR
Raymond Lovell ...
Van Dyne
...
Mr.Pidgeon
Charles Victor ...
Hendrick
Phoebe Kershaw ...
Miss Lang
Harold Warrender ...
Lt. Cmdr. Ellis, RN
John Longden ...
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
Edit

Storyline

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 <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

spy | german | danish | sea captain | blackout | See more »

Taglines:

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!

Genres:

Adventure | Romance

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

29 November 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Blackout  »

Box Office

Budget:

£47,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Michael Powell's golden cocker spaniels Erik and Spangle make their first appearance on film at the house of the aunt of Mrs. Sorensen. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Cmdr. Ashton, RNR: We've seized your cargo. It's contraband.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

References Spies (1928) See more »

Soundtracks

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

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User Reviews

 
Hitchcockian? More like 'camp' expressionism
4 March 2008 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Hobson and Veidt co-starred in "Spy in Black" in 1938 (released in '39), a beautiful WWI drama about spies and counterspies made by Alexander Korda's London Films. This film was the first pairing of director Michael Powell and scripter Emeric Pressburger who would soon come to be known as The Archers.

1940 saw the release of "Contraband", also featuring the same stars, as well as director and screenwriter. Technically, this film is superior to "Spy in Black", but if one is expecting a Hitchcockian romance-thriller laced with sparkling wit, a la "The 39 Steps" or "The Lady Vanishes," one is in for a big disappointment. Conrad Veidt, only three years away from death, looks much older than forty-seven in "Contraband". It is sad to see him cast as a 'romantic lead' having to occasionally spout some inane, undignified dialogue. Try to imagine Humphrey Bogart playing the lead in "Casablanca" in 1956 instead of 1942, and you have the idea. Even between "The Spy in Black" and "Contraband" Veidt had aged considerably.

The acting, direction, and camera-work are superb---diminutive Hay Petrie steals every scene he is in, as he did in "The Spy in Black" and "Knight Without Armour" (1937). Had he worked in Hollywood, he would likely have been a successful character lead, as was Claude Rains. It is Emeric Pressburger's script which ultimately sinks "Contraband". There are many potentially dramatic moments which are undermined by campy dialogue and situations, so much so that one cannot take the film seriously at all. The same occurs to a lesser degree in the otherwise excellent "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp" and "A Matter of Life and Death". Pressburger, a Hungarian emigrè, also ham-fistedly telegraphs an appeal for sympathy towards all non-Brits in the aforementioned UK films.

I much prefer the Korda-produced films to the work of The Archers for the above reasons.


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