The Masters  
The Powell & Pressburger Pages

Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.

A lot of the documents have been sent to me or have come from other web sites. The name of the web site is given where known. If I have unintentionally included an image or document that is copyrighted or that I shouldn't have done then please email me and I'll remove it.

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Fascinating trivia (and any goofs) connected with the film
Mainly from the Bruce Eder laserdisk commentary

- Despite the title, no scene in the movie is set at the 49th parallel of north latitude, which forms the US/Canadian border from Lake of the Woods to the Pacific coast. The only border scene is at Niagara Falls, where the border is the Niagara River.

- All the opening 'travelogue' footage was shot by Freddie Young on a hand held camera out of the windows of various planes, trains and automobiles on an initial trip across Canada.

- The voice of the director, Michael Powell can be heard faintly in some of the submarine scenes. When the camera boat almost collided with the submarine Powell says "Keep rolling".

- The men in the lifeboat at the start are mainly local merchant seamen, many of whom had already been torpedoed.

- Raymond Massey, Laurence Olivier and Leslie Howard all agreed to work at half their normal fee as it was such an important propaganda film.

- The U37 was equipped with 2 one thousand pound bombs supplied by the Canadian Air Force. Powell didn't tell the actors that they were there, he thought they might have worried. The actors were replaced by dummies before the bombs were detonated.

- Raymond Lovell nearly drowned in the scene where the seaplane crashes. Even those who could swim (Lovell couldn't) became flustered when the seaplane sank faster then expected. The stink bomb that was that was thrown in to "heighten the turmoil" added greatly to the chaos. A member of the camera crew jumped in and saved Lovell.

- Raymond Lovell trained as a Doctor at Cambridge University but gave up medicine for the stage in the 1920's.

- Hutterites are Christian Fundamentalists from Germany, they arrived in Canada in the early 1900's to escape religious persecution. Most viewers will regard them as similar to the Amish. They live in simple, self-sufficient communities, leading quite an austere, strict lifestyle.
The Hutterites allowed the film company into their community near Winnipeg. They worked together quite happily until one day a Hutterite woman saw Elisabeth Bergner painting her nails and smoking. The Hutterite woman was so incensed she rushed up, knocked the cigarette from her mouth and slapped her face.
Powell had to make peace with the community and with the outraged star. Bergner later deserted the film, refusing to come back to England for the studio scenes. It is believed that as an ex-German national she feared for her life if the Nazi's had invaded. Glynis Johns stepped in to replace Bergner to much acclaim. The initial long shots of Anna are those of Bergner. A rare case of an established star acting as a stand-in for a newcomer.

- The U-Boat was built by Harry Roper of Halifax and towed to Corner Brook, Newfoundland, where it was "shot down" by the Royal Canadian Air Force as the film opens in the Strait of Belle Isle.

- Powell forgot that Newfoundland was a Crown Colony and not a part of Canada and when they moved the full-sized submarine model there it was impounded by Customs & Excise who demanded that import duty be paid. The matter was finally resolved when Powell appealed to the Governor of Newfoundland, citing their work for the war effort. Newfoundland became a Canadian province in 1949.

- The original choice to play Lieutenant Hirth was Archer's stalwart Esmond Knight. But he had decided to join the Royal Navy at the outbreak of war.

- For the scene with the Hutterites listening to Eric Portman's impassioned pro-Nazi speech, the actors were all "hand picked faces". Over half were refugees from Hitler. [Powell auto-biog]

- Anton Walbrook donated half his fee to the International Red Cross.

- One of the deleted scenes was of the Nazis flying across Canada. This included Carla Lehmann & Tamara Desni as Air hostesses. I also have a studio still of Andy Brock (Ray Massey) in the passenger compartment of the train. Presumably he taes to the baggage car to avoid the attentions of the railway guard of some other official.

- Jean Haynes tells us:
A bit of trivia. When I was seven, in war-time London ,a girl in my class had a mother who was a theatrical agent. She used to take us children as extras when required, and I spent three days at Denham as a Hutterite child in the camp where Eric Portman made his dramatic speech in 49th Parallell. It took three days to get it in the can. We had to be in 'makeup' by 6am and, apart from a break for lunch when we could go down to the river, back on the set till 6 pm or later. We sat at long tables where bowls of what looked like dripping and black bread were set before us, and, apart from filing out of the hut, that was all we did. Needless to say we couldn't locate ourselves when we saw the film, but, as a long-term admirer of The Archers (and Marius Goring in particular) I am proud of my link with this film.

The BBC Radio 4 series "Great Lives" ( about Peter Cushing had Cushing's biographer David Miller talking about Cushing's early life and he said how Cushing had gone to Hollywood before the war, but apparently things hadn't worked out too well, and he ended up doing a variety of odd jobs. Which is how he came to be making props (not acting) on 49th Parallel. One day he had the job of making flags for model boats to be pushed around a map, and he made all these swastikas and laid them out in his digs. They were found by his landlady who promptly called the police.

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