49th Parallel (1941)

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Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger direct Eric Portman, Laurence Olivier and Anton Walbrook in this World War II propaganda thriller imagining Nazis on the run in Canada. 

The inverse of One of Our Aircraft is Missing , this depicts a group of (mostly) despicable hun running roughshod over Western freedoms. It works really well though, both as a thriller in a mode not dissimilar to Predator or Centurion,  and as a didactic piece to encourage the States not to deal with Hitler and his values. While it may lack the magic of their technicolour fantasy work, The Archers make striking use of rural Canadian life in stiff juxtaposition to the fugitives’ politics. The Nazis interact with, and are bested by, continually decent sorts, whether it be Larry Olivier’s bullish hunter, a community of sweet Hutterites or Lesley Howard’s gentleman explorer. It may force its points across bluntly, but beyond these forgivable manipulations, it proves a tight little adventure.

9

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