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Summary: A damaged U-boat is stranded in a Canadian bay in the early years of World War II. The Fanatical Nazi captain and his crew must reach the neutral United States or be captured. Along the way they meet a variety of characters each with their own views on the war and nationalism. In this film Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger show their ideas of why the United States should join the Allied fight against the Nazis. (imdb)
A great thriller. I found 49 P to be exciting, unique, and quite comedic at times. I particularly enjoyed the performances by Leslie Howard and Raymond Massey. I found it particularly interesting how the Nazi shore party is painted to be full evil and willing to do anything to stay alive yet Vogel's character is painted as a sensible and honest man desiring to live life as a baker in the religious community. Don't get too attached to any character. You never know when they might leave the film
I can't quite make up my mind about it. Some parts are superb, the action is riveting and the tone is great. However the propaganda aspect is really obvious and detracts from the film, and some scenes are really cheesy. It's a mixed bag, but on the whole an enjoyable one.
An engaging and early look at the Nazis. A bit hokey at times, particularly Olivier's performance, which while comical in places, was so over the top that it takes you out of the film. However, the segment highlighting Vogel in the religious community is a real standout, adding a complexity to the portrayal of Nazis that is significant for the time period. Further, Powell's camera is most interesting in this sequence, framing some characters and their bodies in a way that engenders sympathy.
An occasionally absurd bit of propaganda, but an entertaining one. The fact that this plays out as an adventure film from the perspective of the Nazis is novel, and it ends up being a pretty fun time, and fairly effective despite its ham-fistedness. The low point is without a doubt Olivier's vile attempt at a Quebecois accent. Whether he's hamming it up for comic effect or because that's just how he acts, it's an embarrassment. The highlight is MacGinnis as the one reluctant Nazi.
The ambition of Powell & Pressburger's films--hard to describe to one who hasn't seen them--provides a delight of its own, and in 49TH PARALLEL, it keeps one watching through the heavier-handed sequences (it was made as WW2 propaganda). The story itself, of stranded Nazi sailors trekking across Canada, is a compelling one, while Powell's careful direction, the solid acting (Portman, Walbrook, and Massey especially), the superb cinematography, and Ralph Vaughn Williams' fine score tell it well.
Definitely hokey here and there, and has more than a tinge of wartime propaganda. It thoroughly and unabashedly kisses Canadian butt, and even has an obvious Christian slant, but for a film that is so agenda-driven, it is nevertheless intelligent, tense, full of humor and enjoyable.
one of the less inspired powell/pressburger movies, still not crappy, but you'd be better off watching the flynn movie "northern persuit", it's the same plot only better. there are better places to start for an introduction to powell, but this isn't an altogether bad movie.