The Spy in Black

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The Spy in Black
(U-Boat 29)
U-Boat 29 poster.jpg
U.S. film poster
Directed by Michael Powell
Produced by Alexander Korda
Irving Asher
Written by J. Storer Clouston (novel)
Roland Pertwee (scenario)
Emeric Pressburger (screenplay)
Starring Conrad Veidt
Valerie Hobson
Marius Goring
Sebastian Shaw
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography Bernard Browne
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
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £47,300 (est.)

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.

The Spy in Black, which was released in the US as U-Boat 29, stars Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Sebastian Shaw and features Marius Goring.


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).


Cast notes


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.[4] 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.[5] The film wrapped production on 24 December 1938[6] 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.[7]

Awards and honors[edit]

This film was named by the National Board of Review as one of the ten best films of 1939.[4]


External links[edit]