The title of Michael Powell's WWII propaganda actioner refers to the boundary separating the United States and Canada. A suitably righteous narrator tells us it's the world's only undefended national border and, as such, befits the values of peace and democracy shared by the two countries. 49th Parallel isn't a strident call to arms meant to guilt-trip Americans into re-thinking their neutrality, but rather a tribute to the Canadian (and to all free-thinking) people who were already involved in the anti-Nazi effort. By praising democratic values and warning of the Nazi threat looming over the free world, 49th Parallel was director Michael Powell's roundabout exhortation to the American people to join the good fight.
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Well, in title, anyway. The story, about a man trapped in the torture chamber during the Spanish Inquisition isn't so well-known itself. And Corman and writer Richard Matheson (The Omega Man) take some extensive liberties with the story, turning into a tale about the son (Vincent Price) of a Spanish Inquisitor who inherits his father's house of horrors (torture chamber included). His adulturous wife (Barbara Steele) has faked her own death and is trying to drive her husband crazy... and when she succeeds, she gets more than she bargained for.
Continue reading: The Pit And The Pendulum Review