The Spy in Black 1939
77 mins United Kingdom Director. Michael Powell
A masterful thriller with true flair, The Spy In Black has a much larger importance. It threw Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger together, and The Archers' first arrow hits dead centre. U-Boat captain Conrad Veidt arrives in The Orkney Islands to meet a fellow spy. News from a British traitor emboldens him, starting a game of chase on land and sea. Suspense and depth elevate this far beyond the 'quota quickie' of the time.
Powell's technical mastery creates real thrills, while Pressburger's script adds form and flavour, painting the German in light and shade (brave for a film released three weeks before the invasion of Poland).
He is helped by Veidt, whose thin face and dagger eyes haunt. Both men had fled Nazi tyranny for Britain, giving their work here an undeniable extra frisson.