Ein spannendes britisches Weltkriegsdrama, das in Kanada spielt, mit der unverhohlenen propagandistischen Absicht, die noch neutralen USA zum Kampf gegen Hitler zu bewegen. – Nachdem das deutsche U-Boot »U-37« in der Hudson Bay von Flugzeugen der Canadian Air Force versenkt worden ist, versuchen die sechs überlebenden Besatzungsmitglieder, sich zur kanadischen Westküste durchzuschlagen. Unter Führung des fanatischen Nationalsozialisten Hirth überfallen sie einen Handelsposten der Hudson Bay Company, wo sie sich gewaltsam in den Besitz eines Wasserflugzeugs bringen; bei Winnipeg suchen sie vergeblich Unterschlupf in einer Gemeinde immigrierter deutscher Hutterer. Als der inzwischen dezimierte Trupp brutal ein Auto stiehlt, verstärkt die Polizei die öffentliche Fahndung nach ihnen. Nach einer Schießerei in den Rocky Mountains ist Hirth der letzte Nazi auf freiem Fuß. In die Enge getrieben, versucht er die USA in einem Frachtzug zu erreichen …
This is an important and effective propaganda film. Picture started in April 1940 and took 18 months to complete. The British Government invested over in the venture.
The locales depict Canadian life from an Eskimo village to a Hutterite settlement in the Canadian wheatfields. Story is the strongest possible indictment against Nazism. Plot concerns six Nazi U-boat men whose craft is blown up in the Hudson Bay straits. They reach land and commit every sort of crime up to murder in their efforts to reach the neutral territory of the US. The script of Emeric Pressburger [from a scenario by him and Rodney Ackland] is direct and forceful.
The stars are Leslie Howard, with his comedy gifts at high tide; Laurence Olivier (a bit, but the best thing he has ever done); Raymond Massey (also a bit, but outstanding); and Anton Walbrook, as a dignified Hutterite leader. Despite the heartbreaking difficulties encountered, such as the defection of Elizabeth Bergner after the picture was well on its way, Michael Powell, the director, has managed to maintain his stature among the top directors.
Drama. After sinking many merchant ships in Canadian waters, Nazi U-boat 37 is trapped and sunk by the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The only survivors are six fanatical Nazis who went ashore to reconnoitre before the attack. These reach an Eskimo village, where are the Scottish Factor and his Eskimo servant and Johnnie Barras, a French-Canadian trapper. They allow the Factor to play his radio chess game with a friend in Winnipeg, but Johnnie shouts into the microphone for help and is accordingly shot. The Germans capture the 'plane sent to investigate and kill the pilots, but the 'plane crashes, one of them is killed and the remaining four arrive at a Hutterite settlement, nearly all of whom are fugitives from Nazi oppression. One of the Nazis is so impressed by their sincerity that he defends them against his commanding officers, who shoot him in the name of the Third Reich. The three survivors make for Vancouver. One is captured by Mounted Police, the other two meet Philip Armstrong Scott, charming, cultured friendly expert on Indian affairs, and a well-known writer. They destroy his pictures, burn his manuscripts, tear up his life's work and leave him tied up. Released by his servants, Scott captures one and gives him the thrashing of his life. The last survivor gets aboard a train bound for the American border, in which he finds a Canadian soldier who finally shows what a decadent British Empire can produce in the way of he-men who can use their fists. Michael Powell is to be congratulated on his persistence with this at first apparently ill-starred film. It is an admirable piece of work from every point of view and credit should be given to everyone connected with the finished product. The story is excellent propaganda and most sincerely and dramatically unfolded, and the camera work is excellent. The acting throughout is admirable; even so there is a temptation to say the honours go to Eric Portman as the leader of the Nazis. His performance right through the film puts him in the star class of film actors.
The Monthly Film Bulletin, Vol. 8, No. 94, October 1941