Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. United Kingdom, 1941. Ortus Films. Scenario by Rodney Ackland, Emeric Pressburger, Original story and screenplay by Emeric Pressburger. Cinematography by Freddie Young. Produced by Michael Powell. Music by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Production Design by David Rawnsley. Film Editing by David Lean. Academy Awards 1941.
The first international hit that put the team of Powell and Pressburger on the map. This is a scintillating adventure film about a group of Nazis who are stranded in Nova Scotia when their U-Boat is sunk off the coast and they are forced to survive in a hostile Canada that is determined to capture them. Their numbers dwindle as they make their way across the nation to Vancouver, along the way meeting a host of colourful characters including Laurence Olivier, who is wonderful even if his French Canadian accent is straight out of Pepe Le Pew, and an adorably young Glynis Johns. The characters they encounter take their ridiculous Nazi ideologies and shove them back in their faces; the film is blistering with political fever but is also a high standard in the genre, with Powell and Pressburger both making sure that the audience is constantly being entertained and enlightened at the same time. Anton Walbrook stands out as the leader of a peaceful Hutterite community who insist that being German in origin does not make them sympathetic to Hitler’s evil, and Leslie Howard is hysterically prim as the British adventurer who introduces the soldiers to the joys of clean mountain living.