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An American oil company executive of Swedish descent, now living in Sweden, is blackmailed into spying for the Allies during World War II. At first resentful, his relationship with a beautiful German Allied agent causes him to realize how vital his work is. When he learns that his anti-Nazi German associates are under suspicion from the Gestapo, he risks his own life to go back inside Nazi Germany to finish his work and try to save his friends. It's an exciting story with great characters, filmed partly in the locations where the story took place. Written by
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The beginning-the first third overall-is rather tedious ,with too much voice-over.No interesting character emerges and it essentially consists of William Holden's shuttling back and forth between Suede and Germany. One feels like calling it a day but wait....
The second third makes Lilli Palmer's character the center of the plot:a very interesting one,this German wealthy woman who betrays her country because of her Christian belief.This spy is not a routine femme fatale but a human being,who is smitten with remorse because the bombing which her informations allowed led to children's death.She has wonderful lines:"in a war,every victim becomes a brother".Two marvelous scenes:the first one ,probably the strongest in the whole movie,shows Palmer in a confessional,telling her sins to a man she thinks is a priest;the second one,she's to be shot in a jail,while Holden desperately tries,behind his bars, to say a last goodbye to her.Lilli Palmer's performance is moving,responsible and sensitive.
By the third part,no more Palmer,but the movie has hit its stride.Holden's return to Suede becomes an odyssey,with a lot of traps and his character has grown wiser and more human.He's able to show some compassion,probably the woman's influence.One of the most intriguing characters plays a small part now:a young boy,about 12,member of the Hitlerian Youth,proud of his uniform,he will make your hair stand on end.At the end of the movie,Holden has completely understood Palmer's line about the victims/brothers as the scene with Klaus Kinski testifies.
George Seaton has made an entertaining movie,which does not forget to ask questions and to moot responsibility.He does flay the nazi horrors,but he also puts the blame on the English agents ,stuffing themselves with lobster and sipping Champagne,while other people die unnoticed ,simply because the victims are their brothers.
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