By Barbara Peterson

Spy in Black--


[The Players] [The Plot] [Quotes] [Production History] [My Review] [Notes of Interest] [Videos]



Conrad Veidt Captain Ernst Hardt
Valerie Hobson Fraulein Teal/Anne Burnett
Sebastien Shaw Lieutenant Ashingden
Marius Goring/b> Felix Schuster


Late 1917. Germany has begun unrestricted submarine warfare. According to the reports in German newspapers, England is starving!

U-Boat 29 returns to moorings at Kiel, home of the German Grand Fleet, and Captain Hardt and his first officer, Shuster, arrive at the Hotel Berger Hof looking for food and rest. There's no food to be had (at least, none that stimulates the appetite) and as for rest, unfortunately an orderly is already on the prowl and informs Hardt to return to Headquarters immediately.

Within hours U-Boat 29 is once more out at sea, sailing towards the Orkney Islands. At the precise time indicated, Hardt opens their orders. A map of the Orkney mine defenses and a photograph of the Old Man of Hoy must suit the U-boat officers while Hardt reads the orders. He then gives them the news, they've got a big job to do, and it'll be dangerous, but he knows he can count on the men.

To Schuster, he confides the orders. The submarine is to navigate through the Orkney mine defenses and drop him and the motorbike off on the island of Long Hope, where he is to meet an agent, Fraulein Teal, who will be masquerading as a school mistress.

''Fraulein Teal.'' muses Shuster. ''I'd like to know how they propose getting her into the schoolroom on the island of Longhope.''

''That's their business,'' says Hardt without interest.

Young, sympathetic Anne Burnett has been enjoying a holiday with her old Scots nanny, and now is waiting anxiously for the carter who is to take her to the train station, in order to catch the boat at Stromness which will take her to Long Hope. A chauffeuse drives up in a long car, and its elderly passenger informs them that they've passed a car with the name 'Alexander Ross' on it. It seemed to have broken down. The woman offers to take Anne Burnett to the train station.

On the way, Anne tells about herself and her fiance, who may be able to visit her on the island, and how difficult it was to gain a passport, since few civilians are being allowed onto the island. While she speaks the chauffeuse takes notes. After a few minutes the chauffeuse hands the old woman a drug-impregnated scarf, which she applies to the face of Anne Burnett. Seconds later, the car stops at a deserted house on the edge of a cliff. The sound of Anne Burnett's body dropped over the cliff creates a splash, and the shadowy figure of a woman leaves the house and gets into the car.

The St. Magnus, a ferry boat, has arrived at Longhope. The woman passing herself off as Anne Burnett presents her passport, and answers a few desultory questions, and then is escorted onto the island by Constable Bob Pratt. In the Customs Shed, the Reverend Hector Mathews and his wife await, but the Reverend is unable to persuade Miss Burnett that it would be better for her to stay with them than alone at the isolated schoolhouse. She smiles and allows the Constable to set her on the correct path towards the schoolhouse.

U-Boat 29 successfully makes its way through the Orkney mine defenses, and hoves to off the landmark, the Old Man of Hoy. Hardt and a motorbike are rowed ashore. Hardt heads for the schoolhouse.

Hardt hovers out of site while, from below, Constable Pratt upbraids the new school teacher for showing an open light on the second floor landing of the school house. Miss Burnett apologizes prettily and Pratt forgives her and walks away. Hardt heads for the schoolhouse, Miss Burnett has come out to greet him, and they whisperingly exchange a few code words of German. Once inside the schoolroom, Hardt scopes out all exits and entrances, then comes to the door to the dining room and stops dead, his eyes growing wide. He lunges forward and plucks up a plate from the table, holding it under his nose and breathing deeply. ''Butter!''

Hardt sheds his outer clothing and to Miss Burnett's shock reveals that he wears his German uniform beneath it. ''If I'm to be shot it will be as an officer, not a spy.'' ''As a civilian I have no such defenses.'' They dine on a whole ham, bread and butter, and all the fixings. (''These English are a long time feeling the pinch,'' Hardt murmurs as he cuts through the ham with a carving knife), and at the end of it, each reclines back in a chair smoking a cigarette, replete. Hardt desires to know immediately what his mission is, but Miss Burnett informs him sharply to take his motor bike and go to bed. Hardt follows her orders.

The next morning, Captain Hardt is chased out of his bedroom by Miss Burnett. He goes into her room and sees the entire British fleet laid out before him. '''What is the plan?'' he queries. ''To sink twelve of those capital ships.'' Hardt sniffs. ''How?'' Miss Burnett sees Lieutenant Ashington swinging down the path towards the schoolhouse. ''He'll tell you.''

Lieutenant Ashington, dismissed his ship several months ago for drinking, and already aglow from drink this morning, points out to the two German agents that, very soon, he'll know when the British Grand Fleet is going to set sail, and where. If the rest of the German U-Boats come off blockade duty at the appropriate moment, they can ambush the British ships and bag the lot.

That night, in the school room, Miss Burnett practices her 'school teacher's spiel' with Captain Hardt as her audience. He is impressed with her.

The Reverend Hector Mathews leads the students in song, while organist Miss Burnett accompanies them. She thanks the Reverend and he heads for home, and on the way he passes another man of the cloth, who is encumbered with the large trumpet and box of a record player. This man reveals himself to be John __________, fiance of Anne Burnett. Immediately the Reverend offers to put the man up at his house, and arranges to have he and his fiance come to dinner that night.

Miss Burnett has forgotten to lock the door leading from the school to the living aparatments, and she, Lt. Ashington and Hardt are shocked to hear a ''halloo.'' Ashington heads for the door but is not in time to stop the Reverend backing in with the record player.

Hardt sees a U-boat surfacing far off the starboard bow. He grabs binoculars from the cabin and reads the numbers on the U-boat's conning tower. It is his ship, U-Boat 29. Hardt's face becomes a death's head, his cheekbones sunken, his eyes starting from his head and burning with horror and desperation as he realizes what is about to happen, and its consequences to the rest of the German submarine fleet. Desperately he cups his hands to his mouth. ''Schuster. Nicht schisten!!! Nicht schisten!! Ist Hardt!!!! Hardt is hier!!!'' He pounds his chest, his lips trembling uncontrollably, his whole body vibrating with the effort to contact his ship somehow. He jerks his arms up, starting to semaphore. ...on the submarine, everyone is intent on getting the big guns ready. One man sees a figure semaphoring, but doesn't have binoculars. He sees an -H- . He sees an -A- ....the big guns begin to boom.

The St. Magnus is sinking. Hardt sees a British patrol boat heading in their direction. He watches, impassive now, as his U-Boat disappears in an emergency dive, and knows it is too late for them - for his friend and first officer Felix Shuster and the rest of his crew. He knows that everyone aboard that boat, and everyone aboard the German submarines heading towards the ambush site like lambs to the slaughter, are going to die.
The German ex-prisoners, British sailors and passengers mill about. Hardt gives orders for the prisoners to get into the lifeboats. Then he heads back for the ship's cabin, passing Mrs. Blacklock on the way. She stares at his dead face. ''It was my own ship that sunk us,'' he tells her, and keep climbing upward. The captain of the St. Magnus brushes past him, tells him to get into a lifeboat, but Hardt has other plans. ''Do you have a cigarette?'' ''I have a pipe.'' ''I never smoke a pipe.'' ''Well, you've left it a bit late to learn.'' The captain tosses up a life-ring which Hardt lets drop at his feet, and makes his way to safety. Hardt remains in the ship's cabin, calmly, ready to join his men in death.

On the patrol boat, Commander Blacklock has been diligently searching the lifeboats with his binoculars. He sees Anne safely in one of them, and calls to her. She hears him, smiles slightly in his direction.

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Sunshine: ''Take your nose out of the sportspage and look at the front page.''


All Through The Night (1941), .


This is a fun film, but you have to suspend your disbelief. The villains are made to be more stupid, to give the gangsters an easier time of it.


Veidt's film countdown
This was Conrad Veidt's 104th film.

Blank Checks

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This movie is available from Nothing New. HERE.

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