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.

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Submitted by Nicky Smith

49th Parallel (1941)
9th Oct 1941

This film has been an incredibly long time in the making, passing through almost as many vicissitudes as the German naval fugitives whose adventures in Canada it chronicles, but it reaches us at last without any obvious signs of travail. It offers the same kind of pleasure that we get from a John Buchan novel. The incidents are sufficiently exciting to carry the patriotic theme, there are agreeable touches of humour and the big backgrounds of mountains and spruce forests seem to lift the spirit of the tale.

The chase which follows the bombing of the u-boat in the Hudson ("Let poppa try !" sings out the cheerful young pilot of the following aeroplane as he dives into the submarine's gunfire) is divided into episodes. Each episode takes us among different people and in each a different actor of proved talent appears to give the chase fresh impetus. The capture by the Germans of a trapper's post give us Laurence Olivier's French-Canadian, whose gay disregard for danger brings him to a gallant end. Their experiences in a German religious community which has settled gratefully in the free air of Canada introduce Mr Anton Walbrook on a flood of moving eloquence. They introduce also Miss Glynis Johns in process of proving a possibly small but certainly genuine talent for child-like pathos. The Germans' encounter in the wilds with an elegant 'decadent' democrat enables Mr Leslie Howard charmingly to reinforce the Kipling warning "But O beware my countrymen when they become polite". It is left to Mr Raymond Massey to teach the last of the Germans remaining at large an English lesson with Irish gusto. [Irish?? He was a Canadian, playing a Candian] The chief link between these episodes is the fanatical German officer. Mr Eric Portman plays him abominably well never letting our instinctive sympathy with the game quarry get out of hand

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