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  • Contains mild threat
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The Spy in Black

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The Spy in Black U rating

A masterful thriller with true flair, The Spy In Black has a much larger importance: it threw Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger together for the first time.

War 1939 79 mins

Director: Michael Powell

Overview

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.