6.9/10
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20 user 24 critic

The Spy in Black (1939)

A German submarine is sent to the Orkney Isles in 1917 to sink the British fleet.

Director:

Michael Powell

Writers:

J. Storer Clouston (story), Emeric Pressburger (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Conrad Veidt ... Captain Hardt
Sebastian Shaw ... Ashington
Valerie Hobson ... The School Mistress
Marius Goring ... Schuster
June Duprez ... Anne Burnett
Athole Stewart Athole Stewart ... The Rev. Hector Matthews
Agnes Lauchlan Agnes Lauchlan ... Mrs. Matthews
Helen Haye ... Mrs. Sedley
Cyril Raymond ... The Rev. John Harris
George Summers George Summers ... Captain Ratter
Hay Petrie ... Engineer
Grant Sutherland Grant Sutherland ... Bob Bratt
Robert Rendel ... Admiral
Mary Morris ... Chauffeuse
Margaret Moffat Margaret Moffat ... Kate (as Margaret Moffatt)
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Storyline

When a German U-Boat captain is sent on a spying mission to the North of Scotland during World War One, he finds more than he bargained for in his contact, the local schoolmistress. Written by Ian Harries <ih@doc.ic.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Alexander Korda's MIGHTY SPY SPECTACLE! See more »

Genres:

Thriller | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

7 October 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Spy in Black See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

GBP47,300 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Local information from Orkney reports that it may have been the St Ola 1 that appeared in this film, apparently sunk by U29. In real life the St Ola 1 served the route Thurso to Stromness between 1892 and 1951, with a few cancellations in rough weather, for the safety and comfort of passengers. See more »

Goofs

There has never been a HMS Connaught in the British Navy. See more »

Quotes

The Reverand John Harris: That medal ribbon. I don't seem to recognise it. What is it?
Captain Hardt: The Iron Cross... Second Class.
The Reverand John Harris: Second Class... then you must be a prisoner of war?
Captain Hardt: No.
[draws gun]
Captain Hardt: You are.
The Reverand John Harris: Oh dear.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: KIEL BASE OF THE GERMAN GRAND FLEET 1917 See more »

Connections

Featured in Arena: A Pretty British Affair (1981) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Effective and haunting wartime thriller
21 July 2015 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

An unusual spy thriller in that the main characters are all German spies or collaborators. THE SPY IN BLACK is set in Orkney in 1917, where a German U-boat captain has been sent to infiltrate the locals in respect of a planned attack. He soon develops a relationship with a school teacher who's also working for the Germans, and the stage is set for the forthcoming assault on the British fleet nearby.

THE SPY IN BLACK offers far more than your usual war-time thriller, and it has a very interesting plot to boot. Michael Powell handles the direction superbly, crafting a fine-looking and atmospheric little thriller on what is obviously a low budget, and the small scale somehow adds to the effect. There are plenty of twists and turns in the short running time, many of which you won't see coming, alongside a ton of drama and incident.

Headlining the cast is German actor Conrad Veidt, still packing a strong presence some 20 years after his role in THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI. The supporting performers are equally effective, especially Sebastian Shaw as the turned British officer Ashington and Valerie Hobson as the spy-turned-schoolmistress. Altogether this is a highly effective thriller and one of the best of the decade.


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