Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Anton vs. the Nazis...

Well Anton Walbrook appreciation week continues with this rousing scene from Powell and Pressburger's fascinating 1941 WWII fantasy, The 49th Parallel. The film was commissioned by the British Ministry of Information as a way to raise (American) awareness of the Nazi threat. The film posits a fictitious (?) micro-invasion of French Canada by a handful of bumbling Nazis abandoned from their bombed-out submarine. Here, the stone cold uber-Nazi, Lieutenant Hirth, played by the wonderfully unlikable Eric Portman (who later did a stint as No. 2 on The Prisoner), reveals his identity and tries to win over a room full of pacifist Hutterites, who've graciously taken in this strange quartet of lost Germans.

Anton (who had recently changed his own name from Adolf) lets loose a slow burning charisma bomb here, seven years prior to his ultimate creation, Boris Lermontov, but with all the raw poise, stillness, and persuasive intonations intact. Talk about presidential material. This guy should be studied in presidential campaigning camp.


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