49th Parallel (1941)

49th Parallel (1941)

If you can ignore the supposition that everyone in Canada speaks the same language and some Nazi U-boat invaders speak it too and that in at least once instance the Germans talk ‘distance’ in terms of miles instead of kilometers AND you can endure (Sir) Laurence Olivier’s awful French-Canadian accent this is a pretty good Oscar winning World War II story. It serves as a pretty good indictment of the Nazi’s rhetoric and simple minded brutality as well. The picture and its screenplay were Oscar nominated and it features some great short performances as it utilizes some of England’s most noteworthy actors. The film was clearly designed to evoke sympathies in the “as yet unengaged in the conflict” United States.

A German U-boat sinks a ship in Hudson Bay and is subsequently sunk but not before it had dropped off Nazi leader Eric Portman and 5 others to obtain supplies. Portman then leads his men on a murderous mini-invasion of sorts as his team comes in contact with various persons in different parts of the vast country which borders the United States on the “49th parallel” Canada. The first local group they terrorize includes Olivier. I particularly liked Anton Walbrook’s speech in the segment when Portman’s group connects with an immigrant co-op (a young Glynis Johns also charms in this one) and Leslie Howard’s surprisingly strong even virile intellectual in one of the last parts of the film. Raymond Massey appears in the very last segment and to tell more would be to spoil it. Directed by Michael Powell.

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