The crew of ’B for Bertie' bales out of their damaged bomber over Holland and is hidden by the Dutch resistance movement, despite the presence of collaborators, as they make their way to safety. As well as an admiring portrait of the Dutch withstanding occupation, the crew stands as a cross-section of English attitudes to war.
“One of our aircraft is missing” soon became a ritual phrase in wartime journalism, but Powell and Pressburger saw behind it an imaginative possibility, which prompted their next essay in topical fiction. The story of B for Bertie's crew, as they make their way through occupied Holland, is essentially, of course, 49th Parallel ’inside out'. Rather than imagine a corner of Britain under German rule, the film asks its audience to identify with a whole people who have much in common with the British. Most striking, however, is the unusual importance of women in the story. The crew owe their rescue to two brave and resourceful Dutch women, the local school teacher (Pamela Brown) and a businesswoman (Googie Withers).
Ian Christie (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger: Arrows of Desire)