In the early days of World War II, a German U-boat is sunk in Canada's Hudson Bay. Hoping to evade capture, a small band of German soldiers led by commanding officer Lieutenant Hirth attempts to cross the border into the United States, which has not yet entered the war and is officially neutral. Along the way, the German soldiers encounter brave men such as a French-Canadian fur trapper, Johnnie, a leader of a Hutterite farming community, Peter, an author, Philip and a soldier, Andy Brock.
A quirky war film for various reasons, this one. A Nazi submarine crew are raiding North Atlantic shipping when their submarine is destroyed near the Canadian coast. The crew of survivors - led by a curiously cast Eric Portman - take over an Hudson's bay Company post frequented by a French-Canadian Laurence Olivier and Finlay Currie - a redoubtable Scot who is determined not to to stand for this "invasion". What follows is a sightly haphazard series of stories depicting their attempt to make it back to the Fatherland - by just about every means of transport - barring an hot air balloon - known to man at the time. The last half hour picks up the pace cleverly - with a typically civilised performance from Leslie Howard, as the survivors near their goal, demonstrating that the pen may well be mightier than the sword before a final encounter with Raymond Massey. The cast behind the camera is just as notable - Freddie Young and David Lean (editor) work on Emeric Pressberger's story, under Michael Powell's direction to bring the full effects of the wonderful Canadian scenery; light/shades and hues - as well as a good, taut dialogue - much less trite than in some early, more propagandist efforts.