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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 <email@example.com>
When releasing the film for distribution in the US, Columbia Pictures changed the film's title from "49th Parallel" to "The Invaders". See more »
The woman heard over the Factor's radio (the wife of the man he plays chess with via radio) speaks with a thick Brooklyn accent ("sub*moige*"), when in fact she lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. See more »
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.
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(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 »
This film, being labeled as propaganda, seems to be different from the usual fare Hollywood presented for the same purpose during the years of WWII. It takes a director like Michael Powell, working with his usual collaborator, Emeric Pressburger, to turn this movie into a riveting case against fascism. The screen play, by Mr. Pressburger and Rodney Ackland involves the viewer from the start.
Mr. Powell and his crew did wonders with their budgets. Things were done in a much modest scale in England, especially during those days of hardship as the country was already involved in the conflict. By bringing the production to Canada, Mr. Powell achieved a coup by shooting the film in locations that show the majesty of the country.
In a way, "49th Parallel" shows the difference in ideology from the stranded Nazis with the friendliness and openness of Canada. The generosity of that country in receiving, and accepting all the people in need of refuge, is also in sharp contrast with the philosophy advocated by Hitler and his ilk in Europe.
One of Mr. Powell's accomplishment with this film is to present the biggest stars of the English cinema in roles that were not what one expected from these actors to assume. Thus, we watch Leslie Howard, Lawrence Olivier, Anton Walbrook, Raymond Massey in roles that are self effacing, at best, but which leave their mark on us, the viewers. Eric Portman is the only one that is seen throughout the film, as he got the best opportunity of his career where to shine as the hateful Lt. Hans Hirth. A young Glynis Johns is seen at the rural commune.
The great cinematography of Freddie Young and the elegant editing of David Lean are hidden assets of this film. The musical score by Ralph Vaughan Williams is heard in the background.
This is a highly recommended film to realize the greatness of Michael Powell at work.
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