DVD REVIEW: The 49th Parallel

The Criterion Collection

Movie ••• Picture ••• Sound ••• Extras •••½

This all-star nail-biter from the team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger follows the trials and tribulations of the crew of a crippled Nazi submarine beached off the Canadian shores as they try to make their way into the U.S. As with their recent DVD release of another 1940s British thriller, Green for Danger (see review above), the folks at Criterion have digitally stripped off decades of scratches and blemishes. Although clarity is not quite spot-on, contrast is good, with nighttime scenes that are a deep black and snow that is a bright white. The mono sound is crisp and dynamic, demonstrating admirable range, especially considering the movie's 67 years of age.

Extras are so plentiful that they spill onto a second disc. Prominent amongst them is yet another fine commentary by film historian Bruce Eder, and The Volunteer, a stirring, patriotic Powell and Pressburger short from 1943. There's also a fantastic BBC documentary about the two filmmakers' masterful writing/directing/producing partnership; audio recordings of Powell's autobiographical notes; and an extensive booklet containing his 1941 speech at Parallel's premiere. English, Dolby Digital 2-channel mono; full frame (1.33:1), two dual-layer discs.

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