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49th Parallel (1941)

 -  Drama | War | Thriller  -  15 April 1942 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 3,699 users  
Reviews: 57 user | 43 critic

A WW2 U-boat crew is stranded in northern Canada. To avoid internment, they must make their way to the border and get into the still-neutral USA.

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(original story and screenplay), (scenario), 1 more credit »
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Title: 49th Parallel (1941)

49th Parallel (1941) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard George ...
Kommandant Bernsdorff
Eric Portman ...
Lieutenant Hirth
Raymond Lovell ...
Lieutenant Kuhnecke
Niall MacGinnis ...
Vogel
Peter Moore ...
Kranz
John Chandos ...
Lohrmann
Basil Appleby ...
Jahner
...
Johnnie - the Trapper
...
The Factor
Ley On ...
Nick - the Eskimo
Anton Walbrook ...
Peter
...
Anna
Charles Victor ...
Andreas
Frederick Piper ...
David
...
Philip Armstrong Scott
Edit

Storyline

In the early years of World War II, a German U-boat (U-37) sinks Allied shipping in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and then tries to evade Canadian Military Forces seeking to destroy it by sailing up to Hudson Bay. The U-boat's Fanatical Nazi captain sends some members of his crew to look for food and other supplies at a Hudson Bay Company outpost. No sooner than the shore party (lead by Lieutenant Hirth) reaches the shore, the U-boat is spotted and sunk by the Canadian Armed Forces leaving the six members of the shore party stranded in Canada. The Nazi Lieutenant then starts to plan his crews' return to the Fatherland. He needs to reach the neutral United States or be captured. Along the way they meet a variety of characters each with their own views on the war and nationalism. In this film Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger show their ideas of why the United States should join the Allied fight against the Nazis. Written by Steve Crook <steve@brainstorm.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

nazi | u boat | canada | seaplane | fight | See more »

Taglines:

and introducing MISS GLYNIS JOHNS (original poster) See more »

Genres:

Drama | War | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

15 April 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

49th Parallel  »

Box Office

Budget:

£132,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TV)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Elisabeth Bergner was originally cast in the role of Anna, the Hutterite woman. Initially the Hutterites were only too happy to assist with the filming until one day Bergner was spotted by a Hutterite woman smoking and painting her nails, which so incensed the woman that she slapped Bergner full in the face. Filming was halted until Michael Powell pleaded with the community to let them continue. Bergner was eventually replaced by the much younger Glynis Johns (although Bergner can be seen in some long shots). It also transpired that the main reason Bergner had joined the film was to get to America, as a German Jew living in England, she felt that the Nazis were a little too close for comfort. See more »

Goofs

When Philip Armstrong Scott and his men chase the Nazi into the cave it is only just a short while past sunset (about 10pm). But when they drag him out of the cave it is already sunrise. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Prologue: I see a long, straight line athwart a continent. No chain of forts, or deep flowing river, or mountain range, but a line drawn by men upon a map, nearly a century ago, accepted with a handshake, and kept ever since. A boundary which divides two nations, yet marks their friendly meeting ground. The 49th parallel: the only undefended frontier in the world.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Along with the credits for the actors at the beginning of the film, there is a 'starring' credit for 'The music of Ralph Vaughan Williams'. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Ultimate Film (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

The Lake in the Mountains
Written by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Played by Phyllis Sellick
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Six Nazi Fugitives and Their Canadian 'Kampf'
4 May 2009 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is an unusual film in many respects. It features splendid music by Vaughan-Williams, and in order to let the sections of music finish on the soundtrack rather than cut it off, we are often treated to extended montage sequences of the magnificence of the wild scenery of Canada, where the film is entirely set. (The 49th parallel is the border between Canada and the United States. In the USA, this film was released under the title 'The Invaders'.) The cinematographer was Freddie Young, whose work with the Indian tepee lighting effects shows his early promise with creative use of light. Camera operator was Skeets Kelly. Together, they did one bold 'avante garde' shot from a small boat as it rams ashore from a lake. This was very quickly cut away from, perhaps even too quickly, by the restless pace imposed by the editor, David Lean, who was soon to become a famous director. Numerous already famous people collaborated on this early wartime propaganda effort, which manages to be relatively light on propaganda and heavy on story. And a good story it is too, written and conceived by Romanian emigree Emeric Pressburger, for which he won a well-deserved Oscar. The film was ably directed by the always talented Michael Powell. The one stand-out bad performance is by Laurence Olivier, who wrongly imagined that he could play a French-Canadian outdoorsman. Despite showing his chest and acting hearty, he fails pathetically to pull this off, and his mechanical mouthing of the accent is far too laboured. He was so often his own worst enemy, by calculating rather than feeling his characters. The opposite is true of the delightful Lesley Howard, who creates a wonderful, eccentric and whimsical character of a vacationing scholar who is on the verge of becoming a Scarlet Pimpernel at any moment (he had made 'Pimpernel Smith' earlier the same year.). Niall MacGinnis is superb as a pathetically regretful Nazi who just wants to go back to being a baker and living a quiet life. Anton Walbrook is magnificent in his intensity as the leader of a pacifist religious sect, and he gets to deliver the best speech in the film. But the finest acting of all is by Eric Portman, who is absolutely terrifying as a fanatical Nazi blind to all reason. Glynis Johns makes an appearance as a fey young girl with a quavery voice, who gets a jibe in at the Nazis by overcoming her innate timidity. This was a very clever propaganda film, because its messages were deeply embedded in an ingenious story line. That story line is innovative and highly dramatic. A German submarine surfaces in Hudson Bay on the Atlantic Coast of Canada, during the period before America was in the War, but Canada, as a British colony, was already a combatant. Six men led by a lieutenant (played by Portman) go ashore in search of food and water supplies, but before they can go far, their submarine is sunk by aerial bombardment, leaving the six men stranded. The Canadian authorities are unaware that these six Nazi seamen are on the loose. The story then becomes the incredible odyssey of their journey across Canada, and the havoc they cause, as they try without food, water, or money to reach Vancouver on the Pacific Coast and take a ship to Japan. Naturally, lots of people get in their way and are killed. This whole project is very well pulled-off indeed, and makes exciting viewing even today.


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