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Big Spy Country: Film and the U.S.-Canada Borderlands during the Second World War

Dominique Bregent-Heald (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

This article explores the filmic representations of the U.S.-Canada border region between 1939 and 1943 to highlight shifting North American relations during the Second World War. Prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States remained officially neutral and, according to the Production Code, the film industry was required to portray impartially all foreign nations and their citizens. Yet such Hollywood spy thrillers such as Confessions of Nazi Spy (1939) and Man at Large (1941), loosely based on actual events, strategically depicted the U.S.-Canada border region as the soft underbelly of the United States, occupied by cells of Nazi agents. Once the U.S. mobilized in late 1941, the popular image of the U.S.-Canada border transitioned accordingly. Such productions as Captains of the Clouds (1942) and Corvette K-225 (1943) now depicted Canada as a vital ally of the United States and the border zone as symbolic of this enhanced friendship.

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ISSN 1753-5794