49th Parallel (The Invaders) (1941)



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49th Parallel is a British wartime entreaty for Empire solidarity, concentrating on rousing the patriotic fervor of the citizens of Canada. A group of Nazi naval officers and crewmen are stranded on Canadian soil (we have no sympathy for the castaways, inasmuch as we have just seen them refusing food and water to a group of torpedoed British seamen). Led by lieutenant Eric Portman, the Nazis try to stir up sympathy amongst the Canadians, beginning with apolitical Quebeckian trapper Laurence Olivier. Failing to convert Olivier--even by force--the Germans move on to a Hutterite farming community, where again they are unsuccessful in winning adherents (though, conversely, German seaman Niall Mac Ginnis defects to the other side). They then cross the path of professorial author Leslie Howard, who is living amongst the Indians to soak up "local color". Even Howard proves too formidable for the Nazis, and by film's end the surviving invaders are hiding out in a train, where they are discovered and captured by AWOL Canadian soldier Raymond Massey. Most TV viewers know 49th Parallel under its alternate title, The Invaders. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Richard George
as Kommandant Bernsdorff
Eric Portman
as Lieutenant Hirth
Raymond Lovell
as Lieutenant Kuhnecke
Leslie Howard
as Philip Armstrong Scott
Raymond Massey
as Andy Brock
Ley On
as Nick
John Chandos
as Lohrmann
Theodore Salt
as U.S. Customs Officer
Tawera Moana
as George the Indian
O.W. Fonger
as U.S. Customs Officer
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Critic Reviews for 49th Parallel (The Invaders)

All Critics (10)

49th Parallel is excellent entertainment and, at the same time, can claim to be the most carefully reasoned piece of anti-Nazi propaganda we have yet seen.

Jul 3, 2018 | Full Review…

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.

Jan 23, 2018 | Full Review…

The oddest of wartime recruiters, a masterwork of wily drollery

Feb 6, 2010 | Full Review…

The major asset of Michael Powell's expectedly propagandistic British film, which was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar (under the title The Invaders) is its accomplished ensemble, including Olivier and Eric Porter.

Aug 8, 2007 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Musty propaganda. This one didn't age that well.

Feb 27, 2007 | Rating: 2/5

While it might not seem so on the surface to those weaned on Why We Fight and, conversely, The Eternal Jew, 49th Parallel is wholly valid as propaganda.

Feb 18, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for 49th Parallel (The Invaders)

It's Canada and the Nazi's are not only a pain to Poland, to Europe but, holy smokes, they're in Canada as well. Can 11 million red-blooded, Canadians put 6 goosestepping, Hitler-loving, nogoodniks in check, in time"? This bit of English made wartime propaganda is especially interesting as the action happens episodically and across the lower half of the country. And its message is far less over-the-top than most American productions ever were.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

I know this film was meant to rally the US to take action in the war effort, but 49th Parallel is a propaganda film whose polemics would make Eisenstein blush. Plus, Olivier doesn't just chew the scenery, he swallows it whole.

Jonathan Hutchings
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

sure it's wartime propaganda but it's stylishly done and wonderful fun. we'd expect nothing less from the archers. a stranded u-boat crew tries to make their way to safety across canada after losing their vessel in hudson bay. anton walbrook and leslie howard are standouts in a cast of great character actors. olivier almost spoils it with a horrible french accent in early scenes but don't let it put u off the film; he won't be around for long. the canadian backdrop is a refreshing change from other WW2 era films.

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


I have a real soft spot for The 49th Parallel. It's certainly not held up by many as the best of Powell and Pressburger but it's one of those films I find myself drawn to again and again - P&P's warm and involving characterisation, the landscapes of Canada, Vaughn Williams' evocative score (given its due reverence as an 'honorary' character in the title sequence) are all scrumptious trimmings to a thoroughly exciting story. Along with Hitchcock's WWII propaganda films 'Lifeboat' and 'Foreign Correspondent' and Cavalcanti's 'Went the Day Well?', it is the very best of its type - a call to arms that also happens to be cracking good cinema. The cast list reads like a roll-call of all the great (mostly) British character actors of the day and, excepting the misfire of Olivier's phony accent, no-one puts a foot wrong. And how marvelous that Powell & Pressburger made such a successful piece of anti-Nazi propaganda and still managed to sneak in not just one of their trademark 'good' Germans but two - Anton Walbrook as Peter, the 'leader' of the (German!) Hutterite commune [his blistering speech is deeply moving and is certainly the heart of the film's message] and Niall McGinnis as Vogal, the German soldier who finds his conscience just a little too late - his demise being the quiet tragedy of a man who wanted a return to a simple life baking bread, instead of being an unthinking killer!

William Sleet
William Sleet

Super Reviewer

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