The Spy in Black
|The Spy in Black
U.S. film poster
|Directed by||Michael Powell|
|Produced by||Alexander Korda
|Written by||J. Storer Clouston (novel)
Roland Pertwee (scenario)
Emeric Pressburger (screenplay)
|Music by||Miklós Rózsa|
|Edited by||Hugh Stewart|
|London Film Productions|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||12 August 1939 (UK)
5 October (NYC)
7 October (US general)
|Running time||82 minutes|
The Spy in Black is a 1939 British film, and the first collaboration between the British filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger. They were brought together by Alexander Korda to make the World War I spy thriller by Joseph Storer Clouston into a film. Powell and Pressburger went on to make over 20 more films together.
Captain Hardt (Conrad Veidt), a World War I German submarine commander, is ordered to lead a mission to attack the British Fleet at Scapa Flow. He puts ashore on the Orkney Islands to meet his contact but finds more than he bargained for in his local contact, who masquerades as a schoolmistress (Valerie Hobson).
- Conrad Veidt as Capt. Hardt
- Sebastian Shaw as Lt. Ashington/Cmdr. David Blacklock
- Valerie Hobson as Frau Tiel (schoolmistress)/Jill Blacklock
- Marius Goring as Lt. Schuster
- June Duprez as Miss Anne Burnett
- Athole Stewart as Rev. Hector Matthews
- Agnes Lauchlan as Mrs. Matthews
- Helen Haye as Mrs. Sedley
- Cyril Raymond as Rev. John Harris
- George Summers as Capt. Walter Ratter (ferry captain)
- Hay Petrie as James, the Ferry Engineer
- Grant Sutherland as Bob Bratt
- Robert Rendel as Admiral
- Mary Morris as Edwards, the Chauffeuse
- Margaret Moffatt as Kate
- Kenneth Warrington as Cmdr. Denis
- Torin Thatcher as Submarine officer
- Cast notes
- Bernard Miles has a small uncredited part as Hans, the hotel receptionist.
- Graham Stark has an uncredited part as a bellboy.
- Skelton Knaggs has a small uncredited part as the German sailor looking for Capt. Hardt.
Irving Asher, the producer of The Spy in Black, was the head of British production for Columbia Pictures, and the film was made as a "quota quickie", films made by the British units of American studios in order to fulfill a requirement of the British government that British cinemas show a certain amount of British product. Early in his career, director Michael Powell made quite a few of these films.
The Spy in Black was filmed at Denham Studios, with location shooting at Northchurch Common in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire and in Orkney, Scotland. The film wrapped production on 24 December 1938 and was released in the U.K. on 12 August 1939. Its American premiere was held in New York City on 5 October of that year, and it went into general release two days later.
Awards and honors
- The Spy in Black at the Internet Movie Database
- U-Boat 29 at the TCM Movie Database
- The Spy in Black at AllMovie
- The Spy in Black reviews and articles at the Powell & Pressburger Pages
- The Spy in Black at the British Film Institute's Screenonline. Full synopsis and film stills (and clips viewable from UK libraries).