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49th Parallel [VHS] [1941]

Laurence Olivier , Leslie Howard    Universal, suitable for all   VHS Tape
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 9.99
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Product details

  • Actors: Laurence Olivier, Leslie Howard, Eric Portman, Anton Walbrook, Glynnis Johns
  • Language: English, French, German
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Carlton
  • VHS Release Date: 15 April 2002
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000634A0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 335,826 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Laurence Olivier and Leslie Howard are among the stars who try to prevent Nazi sailors, from a sunken U-Boat, reaching neutral USA through Canada in this classic war film, which was intended to persuade America to join World War II. Emeric Pressburger won an Academy Award for the story and the film was directed by Michael Powell.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "today Europe, tomorrow the world !" 13 Mar 2005
These are the words spoken by the Nazis in this film to strike enough fear into the hearts of Americans to encourage them to join WWII, in this all-star propaganda vehicle that is riveting and features terrific performances; some of the big names involved in this production were also behind the camera, with Michael Powell directing, Emeric Pressburger as writer, Freddie Young as cinematographer, David Lean as editor, and a score by Ralph Vaughn Williams.
As the German U-boat gets bombed by the Canadian Air Force, stranding the six man landing party led by Lt. Hirth (Eric Portman), you follow them as they try to "blend" into the Canadian populace, with the intentions of crossing the border into the US. Hirth is among the heartless ones, but some of the others are good souls that have been trapped into serving the Third Reich, so the portrayal of the Nazis is not entirely one sided.
Some of the stellar performances include Sir Lawrence Olivier as a French Canadian trapper who has spent so long in the wild he is not aware the world is at war, Anton Walbrook ("The Red Shoes") is fabulous and so handsome as the leader of a peaceable community, where we also find a lovely young Glynis Johns, who is an orphan living there. Leslie Howard, an actor who I could watch read the proverbial telephone book, is marvelous as a writer who invites the strangers into his teepee in the woods, and Raymond Massey gives a delicious portrayal of a young man who has overstayed his leave from the military.
Also starring in this film is the Canadian landscape, which we get to see and admire as the Nazis make their way from coast to coast.
Though the plot has some gaping holes, it is well written, fast-paced, and quite exciting, and is a fascinating film from an historical perspective, and because of the participation of so many great performers and filmmakers.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
The 49th Parallel was written by Emeric Pressburger and directed by Michael Powell just before they finalized their partnership as The Archers, when they would take co-credit for writing, directing and producing their movies. The British government wanted a film that would help convince America that the fight against the Nazis was also America's fight. Powell and Pressburger convinced the government to film the movie in Canada. They created an episodic adventure story which gave ample opportunities to make the case that the war against Nazi values was also an American war. Powell and Pressburger enlisted several well-known British and Canadian actors to play at scale, and had to shoot their scenes around these actors' scheduled return to Britain.

In 1940, a German U-boat is sunk in Hudson Bay in northern Canada. Six crewmen escape. They are led by Lt. Hans Hirth (Eric Portman), a dedicated Nazi who realizes that if they can make their way across the border (the 49th parallel) to the United States, they'll be returned to Germany. If they are caught in Canada, they'll be interred for the war's duration. The film is about how they try to make it to the border and the different kinds of Canadians they encounter. There are four major episodes, tied together with smaller adventures. In episode one, the Germans find a small Inuit village and some French Canadian trappers (Lawrence Olivier, Finlay Currie). They treat the Inuits as substandard humans; the Inuits and French Canadians resist and some are shot as the Germans get away. In the second episode they encounter a Hutterite farming community led by Peter (Anton Walbrook, himself a recent Austrian refugee from Hitler).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great film 3 Mar 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Criticised in some quarters for being too 'pro' Nazi, this is a cracking film whose approach to Allied propaganda still seems daring today. I was going to subtract half a star for Olivier's performance, but the more I see it, the funnier it becomes.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Propaganda 22 Nov 2013
By opus
With music by Vaughan Williams, performances by Olivier and Howard, and direction from Powell I was rather expecting an intelligent movie - after all the Spy in Black from 1939 from Powell and Pressburger set in WW1 had been that: this is not. With fact imitating fiction the basic plot is repeated in the excellent 1957 movie The One Who Got Away, where what ever you think of its hero (portrayed excellently by Hardy Kruger) the movie at least treats the Germans as more than sub-human pantomime villains.

The reality is that ten days after 3rd September 1939, the first action of the 2nd World War took place: the SS Fanad Head approaching Ireland from Canada was approached by the U-30; the U-boat surfaced and encouraged the crew of the cargo ship to get into their life boats. The Fanad Head radioed for help; HMS Ark Royal being in the vicinity despatched first one then a second Blackburn Skua. The first dropped its torpedoes but being too low crashed as a result of Shrapnel, the second suffered a similar fate. The U-boat picked up the two surviving Fleet Air Arm personnel from the water, pursued Ark Royal at which two torpedoes were fired but missed; thereafter U-30 refuelled in Greenland and conveyed the two prisoners to Germany where they spent the rest of the war in a prison camp in Brunswick. Compare that with the 'racist fantasy' which is the beginning of the film.

It is Pressburger here who is responsible for this nonsense.
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