49th Parallel

  • 1941
  • Movie
  • NR
  • War

THE INVADERS (49TH PARALLEL in the UK) is an excellent war drama from British director Powell, co-scripted by his longtime collaborator Pressburger. Filmed mostly in Canada, the film opens as a U-37 German submarine surfaces in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is obliterated by RCAF bombers, but six Germans survive and march to a Hudson Bay trading post. Constructed...read more

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THE INVADERS (49TH PARALLEL in the UK) is an excellent war drama from British director Powell, co-scripted by his longtime collaborator Pressburger. Filmed mostly in Canada, the film opens as a U-37 German submarine surfaces in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It is obliterated by RCAF bombers,

but six Germans survive and march to a Hudson Bay trading post. Constructed in episodic fashion, the story shows them wandering through Canada to avoid detection. Along the way, they meet Johnnie (Olivier), a trapper filled with contempt for the Nazis; a group of German Hutterites living on a

Christian collective headed by Peter (Walbrook); and Philip Armstrong Scott (Howard), a decadent novelist living in a teepee while writing about the Blackfoot Indians. With each meeting, the number of "invaders" diminishes; some are captured, others killed, and a decent one (MacGinnis) tries to

remain with the Hutterites. Finally, the last to elude death or capture (Portman) meets Andy Brock (Massey), an AWOL Canadian soldier who complains about democracy while stowing away on a freight train bound for the US. The wily Andy shows his true colors, though, when he must confront Nazism

incarnate.

The anti-Fascist message here is extremely eloquent, the Oscar-winning script witty and intelligent, and the photography handsome and atypical for a war film. Powell beautifully ties it all together in a directorial style that is part war adventure, part Robert Flaherty-influenced documentary,

taking just as much time with action sequences as he does with Hutterite communal living, Eskimo culture, or Indian rituals. The acting is almost uniformly excellent, with Walbrook his usual superb self, and marvelous work from Johns, MacGinnis, Currie, Howard and Massey. With his gravelly voice

and incisive manner, Portman makes an electrifying villain, and he became a major British star with this film. Unfortunately Olivier lowers this high standard with a rather hammy performance, replete with variable French-Canadian accent. The British release runs nearly 20 minutes longer than the

version generally seen in America.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: THE INVADERS (49TH PARALLEL in the UK) is an excellent war drama from British director Powell, co-scripted by his longtime collaborator Pressburger. Filmed mostly in Canada, the film opens as a U-37 German submarine surfaces in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It… (more)

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