Contraband (1940)


Personal opinion: “Contraband” is the last film that Connie ever made in Great Britain, after he left to Hollywood in 1940. This motion picture was very successful in the USA (where Connie promoted it personally, as he had his own profit shares that were eventually donated for good causes during the war) and it reunited the Powell and Pressburger team. Conrad co-starred again with Valerie Hobson, with whom he became good friends – the sort of equal-to-equal relationship, or brother and sister. This is visible also on screen, and does a lot of good to the film, too. “Contraband” is an exciting spy film, and some people even dared to compare it with Hitchcock’s suspensful motion pictures – well, I wouldn’t go that far. This is a good film, but it certainly has its weaknesses. For instance, what was the use of presenting some nice girls with fake legs, or a lady that sings with a male voice?! Very foolish, almost kitschy, I would say. Too bad they cut out the scene with Connie and the actress that should have starred here as his leading lady. I refer to the beautiful and talented Deborah Kerr, one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses. Connie doesn’t have to do anything extraordinary in this film – he is just having fun, maybe because he takes it like a farewell party from his beloved English land. For the first time in ages he is a trully good person, who also gets the girl by the end of the film, after a very complicated and silly plot. For those who want to see how contraband and dangerous espionage are made during the night, then you will be happy with this production of 1940 (also known as “Blackout” in the USA, perhaps because the Americans didn’t quite know what “contraband” really meant).


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