The Conrad Veidt Society
Late 1917. Germany has begun unrestricted submarine warfare. According to the reports in German newspapers, England is starving!
Within hours U-
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-
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.
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
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-
The St. Magnus is sinking. Hardt sees a British patrol boat heading in their direction.
He watches, impassive now, as his U-
The German ex-
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.
Sunshine: ''Take your nose out of the sports page and look at the front page.''
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.
NOTES OF INTEREST
Veidt’s film countdown: This was Conrad Veidt’s 104th film.
This movie is available from Nothing New. HERE.
The Spy in Black
Captain Ernst Hardt
Fraulein Teal/Anne Burnett
By Barbara Peterson