Contraband - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Contraband Reviews

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April 12, 2016
Another early film from Michael Powell, scripted by Emeric Pressburger and starring Conrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson, following on from the group's earlier The Spy in Black (1939). Again, in a sort of Hitchcockian vein, we find ourselves following Veidt who is the captain of a neutral Danish ship that is halted and examined for contraband by the Brits on its way back from America. While docked, two passengers steal the Captain's courtesy landing passes and escape to London - one of them is Hobson. With his interest piqued, Veidt follows and soon they are both ensnared by the Nazis (and it is refreshing that Veidt is not playing one of them). Things become comic when the staff of a Danish restaurant (headed by Hay Petrie) are called upon to help. With his usual flair for the lyrical moment, Michael Powell elevates this spy thriller into something more deeply enjoyable than the usual run-of-the-mill thriller and Veidt is excellent in a fun role.
February 15, 2015
Highly implausible and highly enjoyable.
½ July 17, 2010
"Contraband" (1940) was the second Powell-Pressburger collaboration, after 1939's "The Spy in Black". It is one of their lighter films, with a slight wartime propaganda element.
It stars Conrad Veidt as a Danish captain of a ship moored near London and Valerie Hobson as a passenger, an impudent young minx who steals a shore pass and rows ashore, where Veidt follows to bring her back, but when he finds her it turns out that Hobson is in fact on His Majesty's Secret Service and being pursued by some German secret agents. There's good chemistry between Veidt and Hobson, even though he's twice her age (almost literally- he was 47 and she was 23). Veidt is a commanding and charismatic presence and Hobson gives one of her freshest and most spirited performances, and is by no means difficult on the eye.

Powell had worked with Hitchcock and this is a fast-paced suspense movie in the mould of Hitch films like "The 39 Steps." Lots of good bantering dialogue between the two leads and a comedic element thrown in. The propaganda element is not very pronounced, and the mood is surprisingly light. All in all, a very enjoyable way to pass an hour and a half.
May 7, 2010
Rather disingenuous of Kino to slip this title (also known as Blackout) into a "Film Noir" box set. It was made a couple years before what most people consider the beginning of the "noir cycle", it's British, and it's only the slightest bit noir. But it is Powell & Pressburger, and it looked fun, so I didn't mind putting it in the player. And it was fun. P&P reunite Conrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson from The Spy in Black for another wartime espionage thriller. This one has more of a comic edge to it, though, and feels quite a lot like 39 Steps era Hitchcock. Veidt and Hobson play off each other very well, with a lively antagonistic chemistry. Some fine character actors as well, like Hay Petrie (a dead ringer for Claude Rains) in an amusing dual role. The finale has a marvelous touch... a storeroom of plaster busts makes a terrific place for a shootout. Very enjoyable.
December 5, 2009
well umn just seen this movie 4 the 1st time n think that this is a good movie 2 watch...its got a good cast of actors/actressess throughout this movie...i think that conrad veidt, hay petrie, valerie hobson play good roles/parts throughout this movie,....i think that the director of this classics/drama/war movie had done a good job of directing this movie because you never know what 2 expect throughout this movie...i think that this is a really powerful drama movie 2 watch because you never know what 2 expect throughout this movie i think that this is just a powerful drama movie 2 watch with a good cast throughout this movie
March 7, 2009
Contraband is one of my favorite obscure treasures. Bolstered by quirky characters, lots of comedy, and an unlikely romance. Conrad Veidt and little known character actor Hay Petrie are given a chance to shine. There is a most unusual moment in this film, with the two tied to a pillar that is unlike anything else I've seen from this period. This movie also has some unusual pacing and you are liable to wonder what on earth is this all about for the first 40 minutes, but let go, enjoy, and stick it out. It will put you in the mood for good Viking food.
September 27, 2008
A terrifically fun WWII spy thriller from the extraordinary writer/director duo Michael Powell and Emerich Pressberger (who would later form the production company The Archers and release such masterpieces as The Red Shoes, The Tales of Hoffman, and Black Narcissus, just to name a few).
Conrad Veidt (star of such German Expressionist masterpieces as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Hands of Orlac) stars as the captain of a Danish ship who, along with one of his passengers, played by Valerie Hobson, who happens to be a British spy, are kidnapped by a group of Nazis operating in London during the blackout (gorgeously photographed by Freddie Young who would go on to shoot Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago for David Lean).
Even though the actual plot doesn't kick in until halfway through the picture, Pressberger's script and Powell's direction are both so damned engaging (as they always are) that it really doesn't matter. The two lead characters are so likable and charismatic that thriller or no, I would have stuck with their story either way.
July 19, 2008
Another World War II propaganda film from Powell and Pressburger - this time with Conrad Veidt in his rarest of roles - as a good guy. Slow to start, but the third act nicely ties everything together - Hay Petrie steals the film with his dual comic roles.
July 17, 2008
Decent, light wartime thriller. Conrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson make an unusual, but lively pairing and there is smart use of the London blackouts as backdrop to the action. Not quite up to Hitchcock spy thriller standards, but Powell does a decent enough job. Interestingly, it isn't overly patriotic or flag-waving, a little surprising given it's wartime production date.
July 14, 2008
Michael Powell's pre-Pressburger career wasn't as exciting as the infamous Archers collaboration. Still, this film demonstrates a certain accomplished talent beginning to hone his skills.
June 29, 2008
An entertaining British Spy Thriller from Powell and Pressburger which is clearly influenced by Hitchcock (The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes).
The leads Conrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson work brilliantly together and there's even a little bit of bondage thrown in (yes, really!)
littlecharmer1959
Super Reviewer
June 27, 2008
An entertaining British Spy Thriller from Powell and Pressburger which is clearly influenced by Hitchcock (The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes).
The leads Conrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson work brilliantly together and there's even a little bit of bondage thrown in (yes, really!)
½ May 10, 2008
7.5/10. Excellent British classic thriller, skillfully directed by Michael Powell and ably acted by Vonrad Veidt and Valerie Hobson. Great story and dialogue, well photographed. Top notch all around.
April 10, 2008
There is no party like a west coast party because Tupac sucks.
November 2, 2007
Classified as a classic = Interested.
October 2, 2007
One of the greatest movies ever!! I loved Conrad Veidt in it! It was a great mixture of comedy, romance and action! Such a good film!
September 4, 2007
Fun movie with a great fighting spirit behind it. Also a nice role for Veidt, who proves he could do light romantic on top of all those iconic villains.
August 9, 2007
Entertaining spy thriller from the early part of the war. It begins a bit slowly but builds into a good pace.
June 10, 2007
Good role for Conrad Veidt, who does the "light romantic comedy" thing surprisingly well. He was criminally under-used in Hollywood.
December 10, 2006
Pretty fricking bad to say the least. I highly recommend not watching it.
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