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In 1944, prior to the Allied landings in Normandy, British Intelligence is anxious to mislead the Germans regarding the actual landing sites. The logical place for landings is Pas-De-Calais, France, where the distance between UK and France is shortest. The Germans know it and expect the Allies to land there. However, the Allies plan to land in Normandy but they continue in misleading the Germans about landings in Pas De Calais. British Navy Captain Thomas Rawson, in charge of an intelligence unit, plans to mislead the Germans by dropping a British officer in their lap. That officer would be misled himself to believe that Pas-De-Calais is the correct area. Then, he would be sent there, to coordinate French resistance. In reality, he would be sacrificed to the Gestapo.The ideal patsy should resist interrogation under torture, if captured, but should eventually crack and reveal what he knows. Of course, he would reveal what he was told by British Intelligence, which is plain ... Written by
Bradford Dillman is a soldier chosen for a dangerous mission in "A Circle of Deception," a 1960 film also starring Suzy Parker, Harry Andrews and Robert Stephens. The story is told in flashback as Paul Raine (Dillman) remembers his assignment after a visit by his ex-lover, Lucy (Parker).
In order to divert German troops from an attack site, Paul is chosen because according to his psychological profile, he will break under torture and give the Germans the information the Allies want them to have. Paul knows his mission is risky, but Lucy, an assistant to the captain (Andrews) who thought up this scheme, knows the entire story. She's enlisted to go out with Paul, since he seems interested, and evaluate if he's really the man for the job. She becomes a little more involved than planned.
Filmed in black and white, this isn't a big budget movie, but it's good. Dillman was a young star then under contract to 20th Century Fox, but despite being both attractive and a good actor, with the studio system abolished, he found most of his success in television. Parker, one of the first supermodels, was a staggering beauty who was given several opportunities in Hollywood. She was lousy in every one of them. Like Grace Kelly, she had a cool, sophisticated look, and also like Grace Kelly, in person she had a fantastic sense of humor and a wonderful personality - and like Grace Kelly, she never got one role to showcase them.
Though Dillman and Harry Andrew are both very good, it's Robert Stephens as the German captain who imprisons Paul that gives the most chilling performance. A brilliant stage actor, he's a knockout in this, and one wishes he had pursued more film work before his death in 1995. He could have had an Oscar-level career.
All in all, "A Circle of Deception" is very good, and the black and white helps to keep up the British wartime atmosphere. Dillman and Parker met during the making of this film, married in 1963, had 3 children, and stayed married until Parker's death in 2003. Her last work on film was in a 1970 "Night Gallery" episode, in which she looked absolutely gorgeous, but through the '50s, '60s (and possibly into the '70s) she was on every magazine cover and in every fashion layout imaginable.
The torture scenes are not for the feint of heart - to be honest, I fast-forwarded through them. The rest of the movie is both interesting and suspenseful.
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