Contraband (1940)

Contraband (1940), directed by Michael Powell.

Aka Blackout.

It's Conrad Veidt week!

In early WW2 a Danish freighter is taken to a British port for inspection. When secret agent Valerie Hobson steals a pass and goes to London, the ship's captain (Veidt) chases her and gets tangled up in a German spy ring. With the aid of Danish restaurant workers he rescues her and saves the day.

We have a bizarre climactic shootout in a dark room full of plaster busts of Neville Chamberlain. That must mean something.

It's not as polished as later romantic comedy thrillers. It's dark, taking place mostly at night during the blackout and in cellars. Without subtitles the dialogue was sometimes hard to follow so parts of the plot are obscure to me.

The shipboard locations are real and I don't recall any other movie actually filmed on the streets during the blackout.

Veidt is a curious romantic lead. Stiff and formal with a wry twinkle.

Netflix doesn't have this. I rented it from ClassicFlix.

I'll use this space for notes on some pther early Powell titles.

Red Ensign (1934), directed by Michael Powell.

Minor early film by Powell, a shipbuilding romance. Most valuable are those clips of the yards at work, the concentrated industrial effort. Movies are all fantasies, but they can feature more or less of the real world, and the glimpses of reality are sometimes better than the featured story.

The Phantom Light (1935), directed by Michael Powell.

Another early Powell comedy/thriller about strange happenings at a light house. Just a bit of fluff.