49th Parallel

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A World War II U-boat crew are stranded in northern Canada. To avoid internment, they must make their way to the border and get into the still-neutral U.S. THE MIGHTEST MANHUNT THAT EVER SWEPT THE SCREEN!

ACTORS :  Leslie Howard, Laurence Olivier, Raymond Massey

YEAR OF RELEASE :  1941

POSTAGE : Free postage within Australia

 

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Description

49th Parallel  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 crew’s return to the Fatherland. He needs to reach the neutral U.S., or be captured. Along the way, they meet a variety of characters, each with their own views on the war and nationalism. In this movie, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger show their ideas of why the U.S. should join the Allied fight against the Nazis.

Extraordinary achievement

49th Parallel  Yes, it is (was) propaganda. But never has there been a more curiously right and true epitome of the sloppy yet resilient defense of transcontinental democracy than this. Canada wins because Canada is a mess; the Nazi neatness and demand for clear-cut lines falters, and in the end is clobbered with a roundhouse right. So long as I live, I will love this film; it’s P&P at their best, and the Vaughan WIlliams score is second to none. What else can one say? I wish I were Canadian.

And since the IMDb, to which I contributed long before it became such a commercial concern, insists that I have at least 10 lines of text, I will keep on jabbering for a few more lines, in order to preserve the above comments for posteriority …

Absorbing Adventure

 
Released a couple of months before the bombing at Pearl Harbor, this is a propaganda film aimed at rallying the world against the Nazi threat. After a disjointed start, it slowly gathers momentum and ultimately proves to be a satisfying adventure about a group of stranded Nazi soldiers surreptitiously trying to make its way across Canada. Although Howard, Olivier, and Massey get top billing, they have small roles. Olivier is a hoot as a French Canadian. Interestingly, Vaughan Williams gets above the title billing for his fine score, although it is underused. Powell, working from a script by partner Pressburger, tells the story in a stark, documentary style.

 

 

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