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Midnight Movie: 49th Parallel – a Powell/Pressburger classic

13/05/2019

Excellent movie from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

From Wikipedia

49th Parallel is a 1941 British war drama film; it was the third film made by the British writer-director team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. It was released in the United States as The Invaders.The British Ministry of Information approached Michael Powell to make a propaganda film for them, suggesting he make “a film about mine-sweeping”. Instead, Powell decided to make a different film to help sway opinion in the then neutral United States. Said Powell, “I hoped it might scare the pants off the Americans [and thus bring them into the war]”. Screenwriter Emeric Pressburger remarked, “Goebbels considered himself an expert on propaganda, but I thought I’d show him a thing or two”. After persuading the British and Canadian governments, Powell started location filming in 1940.

The original choice to play the German officer, Lieutenant Hirth, was Archers stalwart Esmond Knight but he had joined the Royal Navy on the outbreak of war.Anton Walbrook as “Peter” donated half his fee to the International Red Cross. Raymond Massey, Laurence Olivier and Leslie Howard all agreed to work at half their normal fee, because they felt it was an important propaganda film. This is the only time that Canadian-born Massey played a Canadian on screen.

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