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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 <email@example.com>
When Michael Powell and the crew went on location to Ramsgate (Eastgate in the film), they sent all their luggage and equipment in cases boldly marked "Contraband". Luckily the local wartime Contraband Controllers saw the funny side and when they arrived at the hotel they found their cases had stamps and stencils all over them saying things like "Explosives", "Examined", "Condemned". See more »
When Contraband came out in November of 1940 Denmark had been invaded and occupied for several months. If there was a pretense of neutrality before, there was none now as the Danes were forced to be allied with the United Kingdom and its Commonwealth. Conrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson star in the Powell/Pressburger spy thriller done in the vein of Alfred Hitchcock. Lots of resemblance with Hitch's classic The 39 Steps.
Veidt is a Danish sea captain who is not real happy about being neutral and the risks it imposes on people like him trying to earn a living transporting trade goods. After a British inspection of his ship, two passengers fly the coop with his ship's log and landing clearances. One of them is Valerie Hobson and Veidt makes an unauthorized landing of his own to apprehend Hobson and her partner.
Soon enough he's up to his Danish ears in all kinds of intrigue concerning smuggling. He and Hobson pair off well, very much like Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll in The 39 Steps. Veidt who was known in America primarily for those smooth villainous roles like The Thief of Bagdad, Escape, and Casablanca could easily have transitioned to an all purpose continental leading man like Charles Boyer had be immigrated to America in time of peace.
It's not a Hitchcock like classic. But Contraband was a film pleasing enough to British audiences back in the day.
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