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The Spy in Black (1939)

A German submarine is sent to the Orkney Isles in 1917 to sink the British fleet.

Director:

Michael Powell

Writers:

J. Storer Clouston (story), Emeric Pressburger (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Conrad Veidt ... Captain Hardt
Sebastian Shaw ... Ashington
Valerie Hobson ... The School Mistress
Marius Goring ... Schuster
June Duprez ... Anne Burnett
Athole Stewart Athole Stewart ... The Rev. Hector Matthews
Agnes Lauchlan Agnes Lauchlan ... Mrs. Matthews
Helen Haye ... Mrs. Sedley
Cyril Raymond ... The Rev. John Harris
George Summers George Summers ... Captain Ratter
Hay Petrie Hay Petrie ... Engineer
Grant Sutherland Grant Sutherland ... Bob Bratt
Robert Rendel ... Admiral
Mary Morris ... Chauffeuse
Margaret Moffat Margaret Moffat ... Kate (as Margaret Moffatt)
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Storyline

When a German U-Boat captain is sent on a spying mission to the North of Scotland during World War One, he finds more than he bargained for in his contact, the local schoolmistress. Written by Ian Harries <ih@doc.ic.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Women and children first...to die...in U-Boat attack! Suicide submarine crews ravage the high seas...in history's most ruthless slaughter of innocents! See more »

Genres:

Thriller | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

7 October 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Spy in Black See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£47,300 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film takes place in March 1917. See more »

Goofs

When the plotters arrive at the cottage to change over the teachers, the car pulls in, but when they go to dump the body, the car is facing the opposite direction. See more »

Quotes

The Reverand John Harris: That medal ribbon. I don't seem to recognise it. What is it?
Captain Hardt: The Iron Cross... Second Class.
The Reverand John Harris: Second Class... then you must be a prisoner of war?
Captain Hardt: No.
[draws gun]
Captain Hardt: You are.
The Reverand John Harris: Oh dear.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: KIEL BASE OF THE GERMAN GRAND FLEET 1917 See more »

Connections

Referenced in If War Should Come (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Spying Game
9 March 2008 | by SpondonmanSee all my reviews

A deceptively and beautifully simple little film, a great start for the Powell and Pressburger collaboration, and good British propaganda fun too. Much too simple for most people today who would miss colour, violence, depravity, unfathomable plot and shaky camera work in their spy films.

Austere devilishly handsome German U Boat captain Conrad Veidt has convoluted spying mission in 1917 Scotland to locate the British fleet but finds himself being sidetracked with schoolmistress contact Valerie Hobson and the availability of butter. But even though WW1 is portrayed as more "civilised" than the coming war as in Colonel Blimp, oil and water must always remain just so. There's a fine cast of British stalwarts for example the seemingly legless Hay Petrie, some eccentric most with secrets, and high production values generally disguising occasionally flimsy sets and occasional implausibility. Rosza's music was high class too, nicely complementing the nitrate black and white film stock, which unfortunately has been allowed to deteriorate over the years but sometimes unintentionally lets you believe it really is 1917 and not 1939. As with Colonel Blimp 4 years later the German viewpoint with a sympathetic lead is told with a seeming impartiality, but after all there wasn't any doubt about the outcome. Even Chamberlain might've been hard to appease if Veidt's plans had been shown to bear fruit!

Throwaway - so why can't I throw it away? Entertaining, engrossing, amusing, nothing very heavy and even on the verge of war not a big flag-waver, so it's just the type of film I enjoy.


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