Een Engelse propaganda film uit 1941.
Een Duitse U-boot dringt stiekem de Canadese wateren binnen. Ze worden echter gezien en de duikboot wordt tot zinken gebracht. Een paar minuten tevoren zijn echter een paar nazi’s aan wal gegaan. Deze hebben nu geen keuze landinwaarts te trekken.
Early in the Second World War, a raiding party of six Nazi sailors, caught ashore when their U-boat is sunk in Hudson Bay, attempt to evade capture by travelling across Canada to the still-neutral United States. The film’s title comes from the 49th parallel north which marks part of the border between the two countries. Led by Lieutenants Hirth (Eric Portman) and Kuhnecke (Raymond Lovell), the small band of sailors encounter and sometimes brutalize a wide range of people, including the Eskimo Nick (Ley On), the French-Canadian trapper (Laurence Olivier), the floatplane crew and local Eskimo onlookers, pacifistic German Hutterite farmers, an innocent motorist, and the eccentric English academic and author (Leslie Howard).
Making their way across Canada first using a stolen seaplane, the five surviving members of the Nazi band try to stir up sympathy among the Hutterite community outside Winnipeg, believing them to be countrymen. Lieutenant Hirth’s stirring speech is rejected by Peter (Anton Walbrook), the community’s leader, and even by one of their own, Vogel (Niall MacGinnis), who comes to the aid of Anna (Glynis Johns), a 16 year-old girl. Vogel, who would rather join the community and ply his trade of baker, is tried by Lieutenant Hirth and summarily executed for the greater crime of trying to break away from the Nazi group.
Hijacking an innocent motorist for his automobile, Hirth, Lohrmann and Kranz flee West. With all of Canada searching for them, and having killed 11 civilians along the way, Lohrmann is arrested by Canadian Mounties at a public gathering. Next, Kranz (“One armed Superman”) is knocked out cold by writer Phillip Armstrong-Scott (“One unarmed decadent democrat”) in a cave – despite the latter having been wounded by Kranz.
The story comes to a head with a confrontation on a freight train between Hirth, the sole remaining fugitive at large, and AWOL Canadian soldier Andy Brock (Raymond Massey). When Hirth learns the train has crossed into the United States, he surrenders his gun to a customs official and demands to be taken to the German embassy in the U.S. (a country officially neutral at the time). However, Brock points out that Hirth is locked in the freight hold, but is not listed on the freight manifest, and convinces both American customs officials instead, that the freight car together with Hirth and Brock be sent back to Canada as “improperly manifested cargo” – which they readily comply with. The film ends with the train reversing to Canada and Brock about to pummel Hirth in the boxcar.