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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 3,656 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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Writers:

(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
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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:

THE MIGHTEST MANHUNT THAT EVER SWEPT THE SCREEN! (original poster-all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | War | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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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

Esmond Knight was first choice to play Lt. Hirth, but he had enlisted in the Royal Navy at the outbreak of war. See more »

Goofs

The shots of the freighter sunk by the U-boat are clearly of two different vessels. (The first and third shots are of a ship with a large, rounded stern, while the ship seen in the second shot -- through the Germans' binoculars -- has a sharp, shallow stern. The funnels and some deck equipment are also different.) 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

(Spoken introduction) "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 by a handshake and kept ever since. A boundary which divides two nations yet marks their friendly meeting grounds, the 49th parallel, the longest undefended frontier in the world." See more »

Connections

Featured in The Making of an Englishman (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Prelude: The New Commonwealth
Composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The best of all propaganda films.
1 July 1999 | by (Canberra, Australia) – See all my reviews

Unless you believe George Orwell's claim that all art is propaganda; which, with all due respect to one of the twentieth century's finest minds, is poppycock. The propaganda film is a special kind of film, usually unbearable garbage. This one is an exception.

A German U-boat is sunk just off the coast of Canada and the surviving crew must make it through hostile enemy country to the neutral United States. After a short while their plight becomes known and the whole world is watching to see which nation, Canada or Germany, can manage to win the metaphorical battle.

The most interesting thing - considering the movie as propaganda - is that Powell's intended audience was the United States: he wanted to get that country involved in the war, or at least get the people of that country to support the war. Realise this and you realise how remarkably subtle the film is. Not once is Powell's goal explicitly stated or even alluded to; and even the underlying message (the USA *is* involved in the war, whether it wants to admit it or not) requires some thought to work out. Yet it's an integral part of the story. More explicit is the democracy vs. dictatorship theme, which is hammered home a number of different ways, not all of them obvious. (This theme is handled a bit too obviously now and then, I'll admit.)

Another interesting fact is that the hero of the story is either democracy, or Canada, or the Western Allies, or some such - no one person plays the role. The central characters are the Germans. In fact they're all quite likable (except for the doctrinaire Nazi, of course). Powell bends over backwards to inhibit anti-German sentiment. Despite all this we are not once on the Germans' side. We want them to be captured so long as they continue to serve an evil regime.

It's also a beautifully shot travelogue of Canada. And Ralph Vaughan Williams's score is lovely. He was seventy or so when he wrote it; he'd never written for the cinema before; he had his own ideas about what film music should be like.


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