Commissioned by the Ministry of Information in hopes of swaying public opinion in favour of America's entry into the war, this now seems a little dated in patches, with the characterisations all too self-consciously tailored to the propaganda notion of providing a cross-section of ethnic types united in their resistance to Nazism (Leslie Howard's stereotypically laconic Englishman suffers most). But the episodic account of a stranded U-Boat crew's brutal foray into Canada still grips (Emeric Pressburger's script is beautifully structured), and the running debate on democracy versus dictatorship is conducted in terms far from simplistic. What really lifts the film, though, is what David Thomson calls 'a primitive feeling for endangered civilisation': a feeling very much akin to the passionate concern for England's green and pleasant land which flowered in the marvellous A Canterbury Tale three years later.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Emeric Pressburger, Rodney Ackland|