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Military investigator Colonel Edwards is assigned a case involving Major Cargill, a Korean War POW who is accused of treason. Although Cargill admits his guilt and Edwards' superiors are impatiently pushing Edwards to move this case to court martial, Edwards becomes convinced of Cargill's innocence. Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
When Miller throws his punch, it clearly misses to the left even though the victim's head snaps back. See more »
Maj. Harry Cargill:
A man can be a hero all his life, but if in the last month of it, or the last week, or even the last minute, the pressure becomes too great and he breaks, then he's branded for life. You can't ask a man to be a hero forever. There ought to be a time limit.
Lt. Gen. J. Connors:
There is no defense for treason.
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Richard Widmark exudes concern and empathy as an army colonel investigating the circumstances behind a charge of treason. The film also contains effective performances by Richard Basehart, as the accused traitor, a major who shares a secret he is unwilling to reveal, and a young Rip Torn as a lieutenant who is also willing to keep the secret even though he knows it will lead to a miscarriage of justice. The film is based on a play, and Karl Malden, in his only directing assignment, tries hard to open it up, but most of the scenes take place in Widmark's office, and there are way too many point of view shots of one person talking while another listens. Malden does make effective use of a few flashbacks to a frigid P.O.W. barracks in North Korea, and there are some interesting shots of the military base at Governors Island in New York City, but the film suffers somewhat from staginess. Piercing, discordant, almost alarmingly loud music by Fred Steiner punctuates scenes in the P.O.W. camps, where a complex mixture of motives lead to actions that have devastating consequences.
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