Preface: a stentorian narrator tells us that the USA was flooded with Nazi spies in 1939-41. One such tries to recruit college grad Bill Dietrich, who becomes a double agent for the FBI. While Bill trains in Hamburg, a street-accident victim proves to have been spying on atom-bomb secrets; conveniently, Dietrich is assigned to the New York spy ring stealing these secrets. Can he track down the mysterious "Christopher" before his ruthless associates unmask and kill him? Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Many of the bit roles in this film were played by real FBI agents, and this was their only film. See more »
When the agents are preparing to do the first survey of the house they are wearing CD (Civil Defense) arm bands on their right arms. The next scene shows them approaching the house and the arm bands are now on their left arms. See more »
Viewed as a period piece, semi-documentary about Nazi espionage still holds interest
This is the story of how the FBI supposedly cracked a Nazi espionage ring on the trail of Manhattan Project (the A-Bomb) in the early years of World War II. As a movie, its chief significance is that it kicked off a spate of semi-documentary movies paying tribute to one or another of the U.S. government's law enforcement agencies and celebrating Our Tax Dollars at Work. Such films became a staple of the noir cycle; a few of them even achieved distinction (T-Men, for instance).
William Eythe, a young American, is recruited by and trained in Germany to be a spy; in fact he works as a double agent for the FBI. The film, shot largely on location, traces the actions of the nest of vipers on New York's upper east side. Their unofficial master seems to be Signe Hasso, under cover of running a chic dress boutique. Her opposite number, who runs Eythe, is Lloyd Nolan (who was to reprise his role as Inspector Briggs in subsequent films).
The film's period flavor keeps it from seeming too dated, because the spying looks quite primitive to audiences spoiled by James Bond gimmickry and later, even more sophisticated, espionage thrillers. And, from a modern perspective, the smug boastfulness about the Bureau's -- and America's -- infallibility becomes a bit hard to swallow. There's little texture or nuance in the film, but, as a quasi-historical document, it exerts its own fascination.
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