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The 49th Parallel

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Overview

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's thoughtful exercise in pro-British World War II propaganda makes its American DVD debut in this richly appointed package from the Criterion Collection. 49th Parallel has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and looks quite good; while the source materials look a bit soft in spots, for the most part the visual quality is excellent, and the location work (shot in Canada by Frederick Young) truly stands out. The audio has been mastered in ...
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Overview

Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's thoughtful exercise in pro-British World War II propaganda makes its American DVD debut in this richly appointed package from the Criterion Collection. 49th Parallel has been transferred to disc in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and looks quite good; while the source materials look a bit soft in spots, for the most part the visual quality is excellent, and the location work (shot in Canada by Frederick Young) truly stands out. The audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Mono, and sounds just fine, as good as any film produced in 1941 is likely to sound. The dialogue is in English (with a smattering of French and German for character color), with no multiple language options included, though the disc does feature optional English language subtitles. The feature include an optional commentary track, in which Bruce Eder discusses the style of the film and shares anecdotes about its production, while the original theatrical trailer is also on board. A bonus disc includes more bonus material, including a BBC television documentary on Powell and Pressburger, audio recordings of Powell discussing (#49th Parallel as he dictated material for his autobiography (the sound quality is less then pristine, but he's clearly understandable), and The Volunteer, an entertaining 43-minute short ($Powell directed to promote military recruitment during the war which stars Ralph Richardson. A well-designed booklet featuring an essay by Charles Barr and a transcript of Michael Powell's speech at the film's premiere is the icing on the cake. If 49th Parallel isn't at the top of Powell and Pressberger's list of cinematic accomplishments, it certainly merits a viewing (especially for Laurence Olivier's con brio performance as a Quebecois trapper), and this edition treats the material with tender loving care.
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Special Features

Disc One: The Film - ; New, restored high-definition digital transfer; Audio commentary by film and music historian Bruce Eder; Original theatrical trailer; Disc Two: The Supplements - ; The Volunteer, a 1943 Powell and Pressburger war-effort short starring Ralph Richardson; Excerpts from Michael Powell's audio dictations for his autobiography; A Pretty British Affair, a BBC documentary on the careers of Powell and Pressburger, which considers their World War II - era collaborations and features rare footage of the filmmakers together; Plus: A new essay by film scholar Charles Barr and an excerpt from Powell's 1941 speech
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
This 1941 British war film preached pure propaganda and got away with glowing critical reviews. How did it do it? With riveting suspense, superb writing, good cinematography, and some of the finest actors of the day, including Laurence Olivier, Leslie Howard, Raymond Massey, Anton Walbrook, and Eric Portman. When director Michael Powell and producer Emeric Pressburger began planning the motion picture as part of the war effort, they decided to make a propaganda film that was more than patriotic pap. Helping to fire their imaginations were the hard realities of the day: Hitler was on the march, Britain was in peril, and the U.S. had not yet entered the war. Pressburger fashioned a story about Nazis who enter Canada after their submarine sinks off the coast, above the 49th Parallel, and try to make it to the neutral U.S. while authorities are hot on their trail. Portman convincingly portrays the detestable Nazi leader while Olivier, Howard, Walbrook and Massey play patriotic Canadians who resist him and the other invaders. (The Invaders, incidentally, was the title of the film in the U.S.) The movie attempted not only to influence U.S. public opinion but also to solidify Canadian support for the war.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/20/2007
  • UPC: 715515022422
  • Original Release: 1941
  • Rating:

  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: B&W
  • Time: 2:03:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 17,155

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Leslie Howard Philip Armstrong Scott
Raymond Massey Andy Brock
Laurence Olivier Johnnie
Anton Walbrook Peter
Glynis Johns Anna
Finlay Currie Factor
Eric Portman Lieutenant Hirth
Niall MacGinnis Vogel
Ley On Nick
Eric Clavering Art
Charles Victor Andreas
Raymond Lovell Lieutenant Kuhnecke
John Chandos Lohrmann
Basil Appleby Jahner
Richard George Kommandant Bernsdorff
Theodore Salt U.S. Customs Officer
Peter Moore Kranz
Frederick Piper David
Tawera Moana George, the Indian
Charles Rolfe Bob
O.W. Fonger U.S. Customs Officer
Technical Credits
Michael Powell Director, Producer
Rodney Ackland Screenwriter
George H. Brown Associate Producer
Nugent M. Cloucher Art Director
Emeric Pressburger Screenwriter
Roland Gillett Associate Producer
Skeets Kelly Camera Operator
David Lean Editor
Muir Mathieson Musical Direction/Supervision
David Rawnsley Art Director
C.C. Stevens Sound/Sound Designer
John Sutro Producer, Production Manager
Ralph Vaughan Williams Score Composer
Freddie Young Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- 49th Parallel: The Film
1. Overture and Prologue [2:36]
2. The Curtain Rises on Canada [6:20]
3. The Journey North [6:09]
4. Hudson Bay [3:55]
5. "This Hitler Is Only Bluffing" [6:02]
6. A Good German [5:18]
7. Chess Game [7:39]
8. Slaughter and Escape [6:38]
9. Kuhnecke's Command [5:02]
10. The Hutterite Settlement [6:19]
11. Total Warfare [4:40]
12. "A Great Storm" [7:11]
13. "We Are Not Your Brothers" [3:13]
14. Vogel's Peace [5:38]
15. Road Hazards [5:46]
16. Indian Day [5:48]
17. "Art Goes on Forever" [5:17]
18. Savage Tribal Methods [8:10]
19. Superman vs. Democrat [5:22]
20. Bumming a Ride [8:11]
21. The Border [6:37]
22. Color Bars [:00]
Disc #2 -- 49th Parallel: The Supplements
1. "Totally Lacking in Practical Ability" [8:33]
2. Fred Joins Up [10:59]
3. Aircraft Carrier Reunion [9:03]
4. Ship Film Screening [13:07]
5. Declaration From the King [2:53]
1. Beginnings [6:36]
2. Canadian Research [7:37]
3. The Story [6:58]
4. Cast and Crew [12:06]
5. Hollywood Side Trip [7:17]
6. The Submarine [10:21]
7. Return to England [8:34]
1. The Savile Club [4:57]
2. The Old Hollywood [6:55]
3. A Beautiful Mind [8:17]
4. Spritual Values [4:09]
5. Ancestors [1:24]
6. Strongest Themes [8:46]
7. Postwar Melodrama [9:12]
8. Art and Religion [5:12]
9. "Cut" and Credits [1:50]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- 49th Parallel: The Film
   Play Movie
   Chapters
   Commentary
      Off
      On
      Index
         Artistic Ambitions
         Powell's Early Career
         Ten Little Indians
         Moments of Comedy
         The Neutrality Act
         Progaganda
         Sparring Match
         Plane Trouble
         Heated Interchanges
         Elizabeth Bergner
         Opposing Sides
         Specter of Anti-Semitism
         Peter's Speech
         Enemy Aliens
         Anton Walbrook
         Ralph Vaughan Williams
         Interlude
         Historical Significance
         International Vision
         Raymond Massey
         Star Billing
         Color Bars
   Trailer
Disc #2 -- 49th Parallel: The Supplements
   The Volunteer
      Play
      Index
   Michael Powell Audio
      Play
   A Pretty British Affair
      Play
      Index
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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