Starring: Eric Portman, Niall MacGinnis, Peter Moore, John Chandos, Raymond Lovell, Leslie Howard, Laurence Olivier, Raymond Massey, Anton Walbrook
Director: Michael Powell
Summary: The crew of a stranded German U-boat tries to evade capture in Canada during WWII
Other Nominations: Adapted Screenplay, Story*
-For a war time propaganda film, there is at least a little nuance when it comes to the Nazis: one of them is only a soldier because he was conscripted and is a fundamentally decent guy who isn’t invested in the ideology, and a couple of others aren’t especially evil and just act like soldiers.
-The scenes at the Hutterite community are easily the highlight of the movie and are probably the most effective contrast between the peacefulness and freedom of Canada vs. the brutal fascism of Nazi Germany. The movie also has a lot of themes about condemning the Nazis from a Christian morals standpoint which is unusual and somewhat interesting
-Very much a heavy-handed propaganda film which isn’t particularly my cup of tea. It served its purpose well and wasn’t all that bad, most of it is moralizing and getting the points the filmmakers want to get across vs. being entertaining. Based on the plot summary and the first 10 minutes or so, I was expecting either a tense thriller or an action movie; instead, this is pretty much a straight drama that is almost entirely from the perspective of the Nazis on the run and we rarely see anybody actively chasing them or anything.
-The 3 top-billed actors are Howard, Olivier and Massey who appear in the movie for 20, 20 and 10 minutes each respectively. Olivier is actually a low-light playing a cartoony French-Canadian with a terrible accent.
-This movie was release in the UK in 1941, and was released in the US in 1942 under the title of The Invaders, hence why it was nominated for this year and not under it’s most well-known name.
-Leslie Howard was killed in when a commercial airliner he was on was shot down in June of 1943 by a German fighter plane. A long-standing hypothesis is that the Germans believed Winston Churchill was on the plane and that’s why it was shot down; another is that they knew Howard was on board and went after him to demoralize the British and because he was (allegedly) involved with British intelligence.
It’s a well made and more nuanced than you would expect propaganda film, but it’s still a propaganda film. The performances are fine but it hasn’t aged especially well