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| | |-+  Brit Noir:Contraband (1940)-With Link.
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: Brit Noir:Contraband (1940)-With Link.  ( 465 )
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Posts: 93

« : April 17, 2017, 05:17:03 AM »

Full film:


 *** This review may contain spoilers ***

Taking part in a poll on ICM for the best films of 1940,I started to look at lists for movies that came out in the year. Enchanted by their work since seeing the sadly underrated Gone to Earth,I was thrilled to discover a Powell/Pressburger work,which led to me covering the windows for a blackout on contraband.

The plot-


While Denmark remains neutral in the Phoney War-stage of WWII,Danish captain Anderson is surprised to receive an order from Lt. Commanders Ashton and Ellis to go to a British Contraband Control Port,so that an inspection can be carried out. Getting set to go ashore as the inspection is done,Anderson's pass (and boat) is taken by secret agents Mrs. Sorensen and Mr. Pidgeon,who set sail to give the government info that the Nazis want blacked out.

View on the film:

Known for the immortal nightmare image in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Conrad Veidt gives a delicious performance as Anderson,with the romantic glances Anderson gives Sorensen allowing Veidt to show a romantic flamboyance with a real relish. Running with a dashing Esmond Knight as Mr. Pidgeon, Valerie Hobson gives an enticing performance as Sorensen. Coming faced to face with the Nazis,Hobson gives Sorensen a considerate thoughtfulness,that unrolls itself as Sorensen tries to get contraband under the Nazis noses.

Originally planned as a follow-up to The Spy In Black, the screenplay by co-writer/(along with Emeric Pressburger & Brock Williams) director Michael Powell sails on creepy Spiv espionage and playful Caper romance. Making their first title for the WWII effort,the writers present a surprisingly unsettling view of Britain,where Nazis and British spies lurk on every street waiting to spot a weakness. Staying away from going too grim,the writers give Sorensen a patriotic slickness that undermines every attempt from the boo-hiss Nazis.

Hitting the high seas with most of the crew from The Spy In Black,director Michael Powell & cinematographer Freddie Young cast a chilly atmosphere with thick smog allowing the contraband to be kept from the eyes of the enemy. Whilst being very early in the Powell/Pressburger relationship,Powell displays a remarkable confidence in smashing the budget/sets limit in an ultra-stylised manner,as shot statues,overlapping eyes and invisible ink notes reveal Sorensen's contraband.

Jessica Rabbit
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Posts: 398

« #1 : April 17, 2017, 06:38:09 AM »

This is a great movie, just like The Spy in Black, which is also on youtube in a restored version. I hope Contraband gets a clean-up soon.

Another good early spy/wartime thriller is Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich. It suffers a bit from a very tight budget which is obvious in the outside scenes, but it's easily forgivable when you have Margaret Lockwood and Rex Harrison in the film.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."
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