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Decent Fritz Lang film
blanche-229 September 2010
For Gary Cooper, it's "Cloak and Dagger" in this 1946 film directed by Fritz Lang and also starring Lilli Palmer (in her American film debut) and Robert Alda. Toward the end of WW II, it comes to U.S. attention that the Germans are developing a nuclear bomb. The OSS recruits a midwestern university scientist, Alvah Jesper (Cooper) to go to Switzerland. There, he is to speak speak to a German scientist Dr. Loder (Helen Thimig) who has escaped to Switzerland, where she is now hospitalized. But Alvah's cover is blown, and he is being watched. In Italy searching for the scientist working with Dr. Lodor, Polda (Vladimir Sokoloff), Alvah is protected by guerrillas who include Gina (Palmer) and an American, Pinkie (Alda).

A bit slow at first, "Cloak and Dagger" picks up steam as it goes along. The most stunning scene occurs when, as a Italian sings a folk song outside, Alvah and an Italian Gestapo agent, Luigi, (Marc Lawrence) fight inside a building. And by the way, Michael Burke, the OSS member who was the film's adviser, and an agent named Andreas Diamond, showed Lang the hand-to-hand combat used in this film. Apparently, Gary Cooper had problems with the scientific dialogue (as he had problems with not understanding his speech at the end of The Fountainhead), and Warner Bros. records state this fight scene was the only one he did well. A very suspenseful, exciting, and raw scene, the best in the film. The thrilling ending is top-notch as well.

The love that develops between Gina and Alvah is poignant, and beautiful Lilli Palmer gives a fantastic performance. I agree with others, Alvah seems pretty sharp and experienced for an untrained agent. Cooper is very good in a heroic role - strong but gentle and as usual, terribly handsome.

The ending of this film was changed from an antiwar one and anti-nuclear weapons, since by the time the film was released, since the bomb had just been dropped on Hiroshima.

Well worth seeing, if not ultimate Lang.
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Fritz Lang spy-thriller
Lejink14 May 2010
I have a sort of mission to track down and see all of Fritz Lang's American movies and welcomed the opportunity to watch this post Second World War Drama starring Gary Cooper. The film has its longueurs but on the whole tells a good story and contains at least one memorable set-piece by the great director.

Cooper's Hollywood roles tended to fall into two broad categories - shy bumbling whiter-than-white innocents ( see "Mr Deeds...", "Meet John Doe" or "Ball Of Fire") or calm, grace-under-pressure heroes like here. For me he does both equally well and while you can see that the man has aged as he enters the twilight of his career, he still carries off with aplomb the lead role. He also convinces in his relationship with his younger love interest, Lilli Palmer, who besides her good looks, displays maturity and sensitivity in her role as a behind-the-lines Resistance fighter.

The story has an almost topical theme too, the race to the Atomic bomb and Coop's character gets in a hefty diatribe early on about the perverse uses that science is being put to by men, before he's drafted by an old comrade, now in the American secret service to attempt to rescue a, pair of fellow-scientists from enforced collaboration with the Nazis.

For me the story hangs together well, the acting as indicated, is good and the cinematography throughout is fine. The story does drag a bit in the middle as Cooper and Palmer start to get to know each other but is enlivened by the memorable "dirty-fight" between Cooper (and Palmer) with a pursuing enemy agent. No hay-maker punches here with enhanced sound effects, instead the fight encompasses face-gauging and finger bending before erstwhile peace-loving scientist Cooper dispatches his protagonist by strangulation. Lang then piles on the suspense with a scene reminiscent of "M" as a little boy's ball innocently bounces to where the fresh corpse lies, threatening discovery only for Cooper to quickly improvise a cover-up. The fight scene (indeed some of the plot elements too) surely entered Hitchcock's thoughts when he produced his 1960's Cold War thriller "Torn Curtain".

Lang also doesn't shirk the brutalities of war, for instance the German nurse's brutal slaying of elderly, maternal scientist number one and the casual announcement later by a female Nazi agent that the second scientist's kidnapped daughter has also been cold-bloodedly slain.

On the whole a good solid movie, not without faults but another worthy entry on my Lang-watch list.
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Better than I expected
fletch524 April 2001
"Cloak and Dagger" is certainly one of the better movies of its type for that era. It's exciting as well as entertaining and not as dated as one would imagine. Gary Cooper is excellent as a nuclear physicist who turns smoothly into a secret agent. There is a fair amount of action (mainly good old-fashioned shoot-outs), a rather conventional romance and one superbly executed fight sequence.
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Suspenseful and Full of Action Romance in Times of War
claudio_carvalho6 July 2008
Toward the end of World War II, the allied secret service receives a partial message indicating that the Germans are researching nuclear energy to build atomic bombs. In Midwestern University, the scientist Alvah Jesper (Gary Cooper) is called up by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) to meet his former colleague Dr. Katerin Lodor (Helen Thimig) in Switzerland and bring her to North America. However, his mission fails and Dr. Lodor is killed by the Nazis but first she informs that Alvah's acquaintance Dr. Giovanni Polda (Vladimir Sokoloff) is working for the Nazis in Italy. Dr. Jesper travels to Italy and with the support of the Italian partisans leaded by Pinkie (Robert Alda) and Gina (Lilli Palmer), he has a meeting with Dr. Polda that is under the surveillance of the Gestapo. The scientist tells him that his daughter Maria had been abducted by the Gestapo and Alvah makes a deal with Dr. Polda, promising to release Maria first and bringing them to North America. While Pinkie travels to rescue Maria, Alvah stays with Gina and they fall in love for each other.

"Cloak and Dagger" is a suspenseful and full of action romance in times of war. The enjoyable story has good moments of tension but it is only a reasonable work of Fritz Lang. Gary Cooper's character seems to be a skilled and well-trained agent and not a scientist in many moments and Lili Palmer performs a strong female character in one of her first works. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Grande Segredo" ("The Great Secret")
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Unlikely OSS agent, beautiful partisan, tension all equal a solid Fritz Lang Movie--worth the viewing.
spcummings20 March 2004
Fritz Lang's Cloak and Dagger is a romantically cast, post WW II production that dramatizes a fictional OSS mission. It involves the attempt by the OSS to insert a physicist to learn the status of the Nazi Nuclear weapons program. It is neither realistic, factual, nor tightly crafted. But it is a fun movie, with a solid cast. Gary Cooper is perfect as the physicist turned OSS agent. He somehow brings all the experienced hand to hand combat skills and spycraft to the OSS field operations that no mid-western college professor would be expected to have. Lilli Palmer is the beautiful partisan that reluctantly falls for this sudden visitor. Alan Alda is unfortunately poorly developed in his OSS role. The smaller parts all well played. The fight scene is realistic as a life-death struggle. Pretty tough, especially for a college prof. But, the story, the setting in Italy and the sense of the race toward nuclear weaponry is compelling and interesting. And Cooper and Palmer steam! Lots of little production elements give the movie a high quality with lighting, tension, and scene settings, while others are almost low-budget (e.g., the shoot-out). A fun movie, from the low budget Republic Studio. Not a frequent play on movie channels, it is unfortunate that it dos not get more play time. Based on the stars performance and Lang's direction, this movie is worth the time to watch and the cost of the recently released (and at sale price) DVD.
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James Bond prototype
AAdaSC23 May 2010
Gary Cooper (Professor Jesper) is a nuclear scientist who is sent on an espionage assignment into Switzerland to discover and report back what progress the Nazis have made in developing an atomic bomb. It's World War II and the race is on to blow each other up. He is told that respected scientist Helen Thimig (Katarin Lodor) is to be his point of contact but his assignment turns into a rescue mission on meeting her. When this fails, he switches his focus to Italy where he links up with the Italian Underground movement in order to rescue Vladimir Sokoloff (Polda), another super-brain scientist.

The film reminded me of a James Bond style spy story. The cast are all OK and there are plenty of sequences that propel the plot forwards, although the film loses it's pace a bit with the romantic section between Cooper and Resistance fighter Lilli Palmer (Gina), which slows things down for about 20 minutes.

As regards the plot, I'm not sure it makes sense. Jesper is sent to find out information and report back, but he ends up in the front-line as a spy with a gun who has to fight and defend himself and is involved in a kidnapping plot. Totally unreal but it really doesn't matter. It's an enjoyable film with a collection of memorable sequences, eg, the French Resistance at the beginning, the scene when Cooper confronts undercover Gestapo agent Marjorie Hoshelle (Ann Dawson), the Italian Resistance and the episode in the truck, and the fight scene between Cooper and Marc Lawrence (Luigi).
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More Than a Nazi Spy Film, and Less, Too
secondtake5 August 2009
Cloak and Dagger (1946)

More Than a Nazi Spy Film, and Less, Too

There are terrific aspects to this movie, but it's easy to get a bit bogged down at the start, and to flag here and there for the whole first half. Once it hits Italy, and a bit of a formula plot, it picks up steam, including a slightly steamy romance and a predictably dramatic end.

It is a deliberate "propaganda" film, really, and it states outright that it is a tribute to the OSS, a 1940s foreign secret service that preceded the CIA. But don't let that bother's not an important element in the drama. What is most striking, politically, is its prescient stance on the bomb.

One ongoing problem for me is Gary Cooper, who plays an unlikely American physicist asked to do a highly dangerous undercover job in Switzerland, and then behind enemy lines. Cooper can be strong and calm and silent, and he pulls off the non-GI American with humility and poise. But he also comes off wooden, or worse. Cooper has often had the ability to take powerful lines, or whole dramatic moments, and make them unconvincing or almost destructive by what looks like lack of ability to act. If he is too famous and beloved by to too many people to say he can't act, I still think a red flag is needed here. If Cooper is an acquired taste at best, this isn't Cooper at his best. And he dominates the movie.

Outdoing Cooper is the little known Lili Palmer, who had an important role in her next film, Body and Soul. Even though her lines (and her character) are all clichés of sorts, she adds little quirks and dramatic edges that make them work. She's not meant to be an Ingrid Bergman, but more like an Ida Lupino--a woman who can shoot and run, and yet remain a woman. A woman in a man's world. The supporting cast around these two leads isn't bad, not at all, but everyone top to bottom is trapped by a mediocre script, whatever the good intentions.

Lang of course is a veteran director who understands dramatic film-making, as well as Europe itself, and in this anti-Nazi film we feel perhaps a tug from his own anti-Nazi past (fleeing Germany in the 1930s and leaving his Nazi-sympathizing wife behind). Politically, there is a strong, even brave, anti-atomic age theme to the movie, including an early impassioned speech by Cooper against the use of atomic weapons. This is just one year after the bombs were dropped on Japan, and the world was still trying to figure out what the atom bomb really meant. Very interesting, clear politics here, and yet it's ostensibly a patriotic film.

Overall Lang makes the movie look and sound good, with the help of great cinematographer Sol Polito (Now Voyager, Arsenic and Old Lace) and music by Max Steiner.

Another theme which can't be overlooked is a more social one--the romance is really a reason to remind us of the roles women and men are "supposed" to have. War is war, and and in 1946, women and men can go back to what they had been doing before--including getting married and having kids (the scene in the old carousel is a suggestive example here). This underscores the bond and the conflict of Cooper and Palmer, a pair of ordinary people sucked into the high drama of war but wanting only a peaceful world where they could do ordinary things like fall in love without fear.

There is actually a lot going on here. Watch for its strengths, and keep your expectations in line.
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has its moments
hickey218 October 2008
While this is probably the first Fritz Lang film I wasn't overwhelmingly impressed with (well, maybe Siegfried, too), it does have a couple of things that make it really worth watching. Cooper's fury as a scientist early on in the movie railing against the amount of money the government pays for the development of killing machines, as opposed to curing diseases and making the world a better place, is beautiful and gave me chills. It's an incredibly powerful expression of grief and outrage in the wake of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (this movie came out only a year after the end of the war). Also, there's an INCREDIBLE fight scene late in the movie, in which Cooper's character (who's really a professor, and just an ordinary man, not a hardened fighter) struggles with an Italian spy. I don't think Lang is known for his fight scenes, but this one is a masterpiece. There's no Jackie Chan flying over tables, swinging on chandeliers, or kicking people through walls; instead, you have an ordinary man struggling with a somewhat superior opponent, in a very realistic, very brutal fight scene. A lot of small, practical self-defense moves I remember my dad teaching me when I was young are employed in this fight, including stomping on someone's instep and a couple of simple arm grapples. The action is extremely believable and practical, and the combat is savage, between two men fighting desperately for their lives. No one watches Fritz Lang movies for the fight scenes, but this one's really one of the highlights of this otherwise "eh" film--it's extremely well-done, and very surprising for a 1940s movie.
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OVRA And Out!
ferbs5418 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Inspired by the wartime exploits of the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA, Fritz Lang's "Cloak and Dagger" (1946) tells the story of Alvah Jesper, a mild-mannered physics professor at a Midwestern university. Jesper is "hired" by the OSS to go to Europe at the tail end of WW2 and investigate Germany's development of the atomic bomb. (Hmmm...a mild-mannered, Midwestern university professor fighting Nazis during WW2...why does that seem so familiar?) Jesper, played by Gary Cooper, travels to Zurich and fascist Italy, winds up helping two fellow physicists who are being used by Germany, and becomes involved with a pretty Italian underground courier, Gina, feistily portrayed here by Lilli Palmer. (Curiously, although the film's opening credits say "And introducing Lilli Palmer," she had appeared in dozens of films before this one. What's up with that?) The picture features a fair amount of suspense and paranoia; indeed, not even nuns can be trusted in the web of espionage that Prof. Jesper finds himself caught in. Although it slows down a bit in its midsection, when Alvah and Gina are hiding out in various (not-so) safe houses, the viewer's brief patience is soon rewarded by the film's highlight: a brutal fight between Cooper and an eye-gouging OVRA agent (well portrayed by the perpetually slimy character actor Marc Lawrence); a tough, dirty and realistic battle to the death with only the sound of a street singer as accompaniment. I would imagine even Hitchcock applauding this bravura sequence. Expertly directed by Lang for maximum tension and featuring still another rousing score by the great Max Steiner, "Cloak and Dagger" is quite the winning entertainment indeed. Bottom line: If you want to see Cooper in what almost amounts to a proto-James Bond role--and he does acquit himself quite credibly--then this picture is for you.
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An Exciting World War II Spy Movie
Kirasjeri8 September 1999
Mike Burke eventually ran Ringling Brothers and then the New York Yankees. He eventually moved to his beloved Ireland where he died as I recall. Whether or not his character was in some way a model for Charlton Heston in "The Greatest Show on Earth" I know not, but he WAS the advisor for this film having been an OSS secret agent during World War Two, and this is supposedly based on his experiences. He is mentioned in the credits. Gary Cooper is his usual fine self as a professor recruited to infiltrate Europe and convince a nuclear physicist friend to defect. His adventures are a little hard to take for a mere professor but with Cooper it always works. NOTE: Marc Lawrence is fabulous as the Ovra (Italian Gestapo) agent Luigi. The hand to hand fight he has with Cooper is one of the best, most vicious, and most realistic ever filmed. It's too bad Lawrence got blacklisted during the Fifties. But catch this movie when you can.
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Scientific Gary Cooper turns OSS secret agent and undergoes a risked trip around Europe
ma-cortes17 March 2011
Conventional and slick spy-thriller set during wartime from Fritz Lang at his best. However , Warner Bros reedited the movie into an usual spy melodrama with some action and intrigue . It deals with a scientific enlisted by the secret service and undertaking dangerous adventures throughout Europe . During the last years of WW2 the US learn that the Nazis are investigating an atomic power so the OSS (organization strategic services) asks for help to University Professor Alvah Jasper (Gary Cooper), an American scientist leading the way to atomic bomb development in the USA . They assign him to go to Europe to meet Dr. Polda (Vladimir Sokoloff), an atomic scientist being kidnapped by the Nazis and he is helping them to build the bomb . As Jesper working for the OSS must bring him to the United States, but he first must meet up with his old professor from college Dr. Katerin Lodor (Helen Thimig) who explains him that Polda is in Italy . Then there happens a shockingly casual execution . Later on , Jasper must go to Italy in search of the scientist. In Italy he is accompanied by a group of Italian guerrilla fighters led by a brave American (Robert Alda) and a valiant resistance fighter named Gina (Lilly Palmer). After that , Jasper has a brutal fight (Marc Lawrence) against a Nazi in an alley . And of course Jesper gets the girl and both of whom fall in love for each other.

Interesting espionage film about the dangers of the atomic age with an intrepid physicist who becomes into secret agent working for the O.S.S . Good performance of Cooper as scientist who spend most of the time trotting round Germany , Switzerland and Italy ensuring the Germans don't obtain the atomic bomb . An attractive Lilly Palmer steals the show as sensible female fighter Gina , someone with whom Cooper forms an enjoyable bond in part because she brings out him sensitive qualities . Considered talent involved at the movie as the classic musician Max Steiner who composes a fine score and atmospheric cinematography in black and white by Sol Polito . The version filmed by Fritz Lang was considerably more strong and exciting carrying on to suggest that German scientific has discovered the secret of atomic bomb and escaped with it to Argentina , then Warner Bros got into the act and cut it .The film belong to the Lang's trilogy about Nazi time along with ¨Man hunt¨and ¨Hangmen also die¨. Lang directed masterfully all kind of genres as Noir cinema as ¨Big heat , Scarlet Street and Beyond a reasonable doubt¨ , Epic as ¨Nibelungs¨, suspense as ¨Secret beyond the door, Clash by night¨ and Western as ¨Rancho Notorious and Return of Frank James ¨ .This standard espionage drama with some good and thrilling moments will appeal to Gary Cooper fans .
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plodding film with plodding Cooper (spoiler)
Marlburian20 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a disappointing film, with two high spots: the fight Cooper has with the Ovra agent, and Lilli Palmer. (Despite the opening credits state "Introducing Lilli Palmer", she had been appearing in films since 1935.)She's great to look at, and is pretty good at negotiating rough ground (such as the four miles to the aeroplane) in high heels.

I don't always rate Cooper as an actor (though he was great in "High Noon"), and he's bit old for such spy capers, but his range of facial expressions when he's told to lie low with Lilli is worth replaying several times. But then the film slows right down for a bit of romance and soul-bearing by Lilli, until the action picks up again.

Incidentally I can just about accept that Cooper might have been allowed to go to neutral Switzerland, though surely with a minder or two. But anyone with knowledge of the Manhattan project (applied in a very basic laboratory, as we see at the beginning) would not not have been permitted to risk himself in Italy, especially after he had been detected by German agents in Switzerland.

It's nice to see the RAF get a look in at the end, when it's one of its planes that lands in Italy. Subsequent American film-makers would probably have made it an USAF plane.
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Has Some Specialized Knowledge
bkoganbing10 September 2006
The obvious criticism of this film is that Gary Cooper is just too much an American type to be engaged in espionage in Nazi occupied Europe. Who was Fritz Lang kidding here? It's the same problem the horribly miscast Henry Fonda had in War and Peace.

Of course the reason Cooper was on such a mission was that he was an atomic physicist and the OSS borrowed him from the Manhattan Project for a little espionage. His mission was to check on an atomic scientist who was known to be working for the Nazis and is now in a Swiss Sanitarium.

So off to neutral Switzerland Coop goes and he essentially bungles his mission, getting into the clutches of beautiful Nazi spy Marjorie Hoshelle. After that it's to Italy to grab Italian scientist Vladimir Sokoloff from the Nazis.

The main criticism of Cloak and Dagger is that Cooper is way too American to be convincing. But that can somewhat be explained by the fact as a physicist he has some specialized knowledge that most agents couldn't exactly learn to converse intelligently with other physicists. That being said, I'm not quite sure why these scientists in particular were so critical to either the Allied or the Axis atomic projects.

Cloak and Dagger is based on the real life exploits of Michael Burke while he was in the OSS. The film OSS done by Paramount and starring Alan Ladd is a far better film than this one.
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I Spy Romance
kenjha19 September 2009
This WW2 espionage yarn gets off to a slow start but picks up steam after the action shifts to Italy and Palmer enters the picture as Cooper's love interest. Cooper acts with his usual awkwardness but in this case his uneasiness is well suited to the role of a scientist out of his element. As an Italian resistance fighter, Palmer gives a wonderfully natural performance. Although the opening credits oddly indicate that this is her film debut, she had been acting for a decade. The best parts of the film are her scenes with Cooper. The fight scene between Cooper and Lawrence is reminiscent of Hitchcock. Lang made this at the time when he was at the peak of his creative powers.
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Not a bad war time thriller
HobbitHole15 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Gary Cooper does a good job in carrying along the suspense and makes it believable as someone who is NOT a spy, but someone who gets recruited as an important scientist to make sure that his country isn't the victim of his scientific knowledge fall into the wrong hands.

As for other user who used derogatory names just because they rhyme with the actor's shows that a lack of critical thinking and logic exists in epic proportions in our day. The guy doesn't know how to critic a movie, so he resorts to name calling of an actor he doesn't realize was popular much earlier than Bogart and even was acting in the silent era (Gary Cooper).

I like Bogart too, but trying to compare this film with Casablanca is comparing apples with oranges. Casablanca was chiefly a love story set in a time between two people who didn't realize the woman's husband was still alive (he was reported dead and Bergman's character thought he was, found out differently and returned to her husband without time to explain to Bogart's 'Rick').

In this 'Cloak and Dagger', it is not a romance story, but rather the story of an ordinary guy who seeks to help his country in time of war despite great personal risk. Yes, it was not so unusual during that time period (this was the year after the end of WW2 that it was released), but it wasn't bad. It was quite good and an interesting look at the time period and genre.

To say it doesn't stack up against what was voted the number 1 movie of all time (Casablanca) doesn't make this a bad movie, it makes Casablanca a great movie!
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Fritz Lang Delivers Again
vitaleralphlouis21 November 2007
A college physics professor is convinced to go on a one-time espionage assignment in order to prevent a nuclear scientist from falling into Nazi hands. How refreshing this was realistic in 1947. These days the professor more likely would stay home and teach anti-Americanism or American Flag Burning #101 to his class at Columbia University or NYU. Anyway, this was a Mid Western professor and it was 60 years ago. The story is solid, the filming was most likely Hollywood, not Europe, but it all looks authentic.

To me the most stand-out thing in the movie was the love story between the professor and underground spy Lili Palmer. I've never seen Gary Cooper so completely excited by a woman in any other movie. Likewise, Lili Palmer is galvanized by Cooper. Don't get me wrong, this was not silly overdone romance or slam-around sex, but a controlled smolder. Consider some other classic, "Casablanca" for example. Did anybody really believe Bogart and Bergman were hot for each other. I think not. In "Cloak and Dagger" we get the real thing. I didn't expect that.
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Gary Cooper on mission impossible saved by Lilli Palmer as a beautifuil and experienced Italian
clanciai10 September 2018
Fritz Lang on top gear at the height of his powers to create atmosphere and suspense, here with Gary Cooper as a top nuclear scientist commissioned to save some colleagues at the mercy of the Germans, among them an elderly lady, and there is some traumatic procedure to begin with. As Lilli Palmer enters, the scene changes completely, and she takes over the film, reducing Gary Cooper to a dummy. There are however some important universal arguments in the beginning and also recurring later in the film about science and responsibility - Gary Cooper makes the appropriate and eternally valid remark, that while man should spend billions on extirpating cancer and famine, he instead wastes it on war and nuclear bombs. This is actually the message of the film, that gets rather muddled up in the thriller proceedings, as there are some developed intrigues going on including a false American lady spying for the Germans, some kidnappings and abductions, some adventurous passages including a U-boat and even a siege with lots of gunfire and casualties. In brief, here is everyhting you could wish for in a film by Fritz Lang at top speed, and the mood is almost gothically sustained all the way through.
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Fun wartime thriller
Leofwine_draca21 April 2015
Fritz Lang is the director behind this fun wartime thriller, in which US academic Gary Cooper is sent to Switzerland to track down a nuclear scientist who's been coerced into working for the Germans. His goal is to prevent the Germans and the Italians from getting their hands on the methods to build a nuclear bomb, to which end he must work with the Italian resistance and combat many enemies along the way.

This is a lively little picture for the most part, not dissimilar to a Hitchcock film like FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT. It's all propaganda of course, but that's no bad thing when you have an assured hand like Lang at the helm. The main thing that prevents CLOAK AND DAGGER from being a classic is a stodgy and extremely dull romantic sub-plot in which Cooper falls in love with one of his allies. This drags the story down in the second half and it only comes to life again for the climax.

Still, it is a film worth watching, not least for some truly impressive and ahead of their time fight scenes. Lang shoots these fights in a shockingly brutal way for the 1940s, all below the belt hits and attempts to gouge and murder the rival fighter. They're good enough to stand up with the best of modern cinema, so it's just a shame that the rest of the production couldn't match this type of pace and excitement consistently.
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Mission Costly
rmax3048231 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Fritz Lang handles the direction competently and the story is as fascinating as it is confusing. Cooper is a mild-mannered physicist swept up by the OSS and sent to Switzerland to interview a Nazi refugee and find out how far the Nazis and Italians (they're in cahoots) have gotten on the atom bomb. His physicist colleague is a sweet and exhausted old lady, eager to cooperate, but she's kidnapped from the hospital because the Gestapo know what's going on.

Thereafter, the intrigue builds. The narrative becomes murky, like my chili bean soup. But that problem can be overcome by paying attention. The real problem is with some of the performances. I hate to say it, because it sounds incredible, but Gary Cooper overacts. His eyebrows go up and down like twin elevators. And -- well, I'll give one scene as an example.

On his first day in Switzerland, Cooper finds himself waiting in the hotel bar for a phone call and he begins schmoozing with an attractive fellow American, Marjorie Hoshelle. He discovers later that she's working for the Gestapo. With no adumbration he shows up at her apartment and displays fake evidence that she's been framed into looking like an American spy. No explanation is provided of how all this phony evidence was fabricated.

But that's a weakness in the writing, not the performance. Upon finding out that her amiable American cover has been blown, Hoshelle turns into a virtual caricature of a Nazi. She stands with her feet apart, her hands on her hips, her head thrown back, and with a sneer she heaps her anger and contempt on him. It's too bad she lacks a German accent. It would have sounded so good if she'd said, "In dzah end, it is VEE who vill vin dhiz vor!" Lang had some good noirs coming up, but he was asleep at the switch in scenes like this.

Still, his staging and lighting are fine. That includes the fist fight which, at one point, Cooper seems in danger of losing. He has to wallop the guy over the head with a mounted stag head, and his opponent is much older and shorter than Cooper. Usually it's the bad guy who is the first to pick up the furniture or a poker or a stuffed head in a fight. But then these Gestapo types are like wild beasts.

His elderly opponent is a demon of energy. And when his matronly wife twigs to what's going on, she grabs up a pistol, rushes into the room of the kidnapped old lady who's a righteous physicist, and shoots her four times before exiting through the window. Caught by the OSS agents outside, the old guy's wife snarls, kicks, scratches, and curses like a grizzly bear. A later fight is even more brutal. It must be said that Cooper is suave and canny, physically adept, and handy with a .45 for a simple college professor who's had no training in espionage and who probably hasn't held anything but a beebee gun since childhood.

There's another hole in the plot. Cooper lands on the Italian coast with a buddy who calls him "Al". The buddy is played by Robert Alda, who speak passable Italian. But we've never been properly introduced. In fact, we have no idea who he is. We must figure out his part in the story with no help from the script. Then Lili Palmer appears. She needs no introduction. What a beauty. Cooper seeks out another possible Italian collaborator -- Vladimir Nikolayevich Sokoloff, who was born in Moscow and followed the same path as Vladimir Nabokov in his retreat from Naziism: Russia to Berlin to Paris to America. Here, he speaks Italian, German, and English -- all with a Russian accent. But what the hell. To Hollywood he was a "foreigner". The scenes of the landing, by the way, are studio-bound but convincing -- the rocky shore line, the rain storm, the wavelets lapping at the tiny strand. It's after the landing that we see more of the dagger as well as the cloak.

The romance that develops inevitably between Cooper and Palmer is actually well done. Usually these amours only interfere with the plot, drummed up to please part of the audience. But this one is handled well by both actors. Palmer is at first brusque but it's not until later that she pathetically reveals the extent to which she's tortured herself for having slept with "fat Gestapo pigs". It's a strangely moving scene.

I won't give away the ending but she stands, glowing with hope for the future, and waving at the departing Bristol Blenheim that is whisking some passengers off to safety.
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I'll b back: When It's all over.
sol-kay20 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Espionage movie that takes place in the closing months of WWII in Europe that has everyone's idea of the all-Amerian cowboy Gary Cooper play top nuclear physicist, in the class of a Prof.Robert J. Oppenheimer, Midwestern University Prof. Alvah Jesper. Prof. Jesper is recruited into the the super secret US spy agency the OSS by his good friend from collage Col Walsh, James Falvin, to find out just were the Nazis are in their experiments in nuclear fission.

Given cover with new name and profession as a jewelry salesman Jesper is sent to Zürich Switzerland to get in contact with his mentor, who thought he everything about nuclear psychics, Dr. Katerin Lodor, Helen Thimic. Dr. Lodor has escaped from Nazi Germany through the dangerous Swiss Alps and is now recuperating from a bad case of pneumonia in a Zürich hospital.

Lodor who was the top man, or in her case woman, in the Nazi nuclear project has now second thoughts of helping the allies in that the Nazis have threatened to shoot 10 fellow anti-Fachist Hungarians every day she stays in exile. This all is alleviated for Dr. Lodor by her getting kidnapped and murdered by the Nazi, or their agents, before she can help the allies with her knowledge of nuclear psychics. Just when the movie starts to lag it's then decided by Jesper's bosses in the OSS for his to be smuggled in Fascist controlled Italy to help get out the Italian top nuclear physicist a Dr. Giovanni Polda, Vladimir Sokolff, who despite working for the Mussolini regime in public hates its guts with a white-hot passion in private.

Getting in contact with a number of anti-Fascist Italian partisans that includes the gun toting and dead eyed Gina, Lili Palmer, and her though as nails comrade in arms Pinkie, Robert Alda, Jesper plans to sneak Dr. Polda out of the country to the safety of the UK but the Doc isn't all that interested to leave. It's not that the wimpy and scared of his shadow Dr. Polda likes the Nazis and Italian Fascist's but in that their holding his daughter Marie hostage and would kill her if he ever checked out of Italy!

***SPOILERS*** Gary Cooper as Prof. Jester who's nothing but as dull as dishwater for the first half of the movie comes alive in slugging it out with the hated Nazis with them, who outnumbered him as his fellow Nazi fighters by as much as 50 to 1, ending up getting the worst of it! Jesper not only gets Dr. Polda out of the country with an RAF passenger plane but also gets the girl Gina, who wanted to stay in Italy and fight the Nazi-Fascist's, to also leave the country along with him. In the end it's we, the good guys, not the Nazis who got the bomb and also got a chance to use it. Not on Nazi Germany who had since surrendered to the allies but its ally Japan thus putting an end to the Second World War.

P.S Even though the movie "Cloke & Dagger" was originally meant, by its director Fritz Lange, to be a very anti-nuclear and anti-war arms movie the ending was changed by the time it was released in September 1946. By then the US was engaged in the Cold War with it's former major WWII ally the Soviet Union and being against the production and use of nuclear weapons, or as their now called WMD, was considered to be very unpatriotic at that time. That with the US-not USSR-being the only country on earth who had an was, like in the case of nuking Japan, more then willing to use them!
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Espionage Excellence
funkyfry8 October 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Gloomy, sly story of WWII espionage is engaging but not too demanding. Cooper is a brilliant physicist who becomes a secret agent to try to uncover information about German nuclear capabilities. He forms a romance with the lovely, talented Palmer along the way. They're not able to save their friend's daughter, but they do escape so the "fight goes on." Well directed and photographed.
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Better Than Average WW2 Spy Film
arthur_tafero15 August 2018
This is old-school filmmaking by a master of directing; Fritz Lang, creator of M and many other fine films. Cloak and Dagger was made shortly after WW2, so it has that real WW2 feeling that only films from the 40s have. The two major stars, Gary Cooper and Lili Palmer have a wonderful chemistry that works, as well as all of the supporting actors. The production values are first-rate; Lang would make sure of that. The storyline is interesting; spies for the A-Bomb during the war. Recommended for good WW2 atmosphere.
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I'm Not Bond, I'm Not James Bond
hrkepler13 June 2018
Oftenly overlooked and seemingly forgotten Fritz Lang's WWII espionage thriller. Although passable by Lang's standards, but entertaining enough for die hard noir and spy genre enthusiasts. This film is most notable because of being one of the first mainstream movies with anti-nuclear attitude. Lot of that was cut out from final film of course.

'Cloak and Dagger' is war time melodrama in dark espionage sauce - there is romance, there action, there are thrills. Still the film feels little uneven at places. Gary Cooper's performance as professor Jesper was cool and charming, but at places he seemed too skilled and experienced as an secret agent opposed that he supposed to be just scientist inexperienced at secret agent field. That kind of gives the film James Bond like fairy tale super agent feel. Not that is a bad thing itself.

Fritz Lang is one of those directors whom every film I want to see, and 'Cloak and Dagger' didn't disappoint me at all. Entertaining flick with enough juice to nail the viewer to the screen from beginning to end.
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an anonymous commodity fabricated out of Hollywood's booster-ism of patriotic selflessness
lasttimeisaw2 October 2017
Singing an ode to O.S.S. right after the end of WWII, Fritz Lang's black-and-white Hollywood espionage thriller a bit more piquant than an adequate potboiler thanks to a dapper Gary Cooper valiantly takes on the role of Prof. Alvah Jesper, a scientist-turned-amateur-spy, ham-handed but always bullish on the prospects.

During the heyday of WWII, knowing that his former colleague, the distinguished nuclear scientist Katerin Lodor (Thimig) is working for Germany, fellow scientist Mr. Jesper volunteers to touch base with her in Switzerland and tries to dissuade her from her involvement, but a tenderfoot Jesper bungles the mission and Katerin is dispatched in the action, chastened by the aftermath, he is given a second chance to rescue another scientist, the Italian professor Polda (Sokoloff) in Rome who is under rigorous surveillance by the Gestapos, the situation is more exacting and parlous notwithstanding, Jesper doesn't refrain from taking his chance to woo Gina (Palmer), a hardened partisan fighter, and slowly makes her thaw out from a bitter and cynical facade, before a final smack-down lurking near the coda and not everyone is able to get out to see the daylight.

Truth to be told, this pre-Bond spy flick is too anodyne and mawkish albeit Mr. Lang's handsome mise-en-scène shimmering with a quintessential noir-ish luster, the most riveting moment is a black cat's scare in the darkness, but the tension soon is eclipsed by the romantic pas-de-deux, tentatively burrowing into the mental hardship in wartime through Gina's wounded psyche, and Ms. Palmer doesn't make her Gina sitting and pining in a thankless love interest role, that is something bracing to watch.

Max Steiner's full-blown score is sonorous but effective, and the fitful fistfight actions are primordially unconvincing, but, on a brighter side, one can hardly resist the charm of a come-hither Cooper meekly does the bidding of a heroine governed by either paranoia or acumen, and after all, the Allies haven't descended to the same "better-dead-than-alive" approach carried by the evil antagonists when an ominous crunch transpires, indeed, it is an anonymous commodity fabricated out of Hollywood's booster-ism of patriotic selflessness, added with a soupçon of zest in a maestro's hands.
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surprisingly ordinary
MartinHafer3 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Despite this being a film directed by the great German Director, Fritz Lang as well as starring Gary Cooper, this is an amazingly ordinary film. It just seems that the movie lacks so much energy, as the actors limp through the film as if half-asleep. There are also MANY parts of the film that make no sense (such as Cooper's blundering into Switzerland at the beginning of the film--even though it is supposed to be a secret mission). Plus, the romance that developed between Cooper and Palmer just seemed contrived. One minute, Ms. Palmer despises Cooper (for no good reason) and the next they were in love!? This seemed much more like a plot device and less like a real attraction.

As for the movie itself, it actually bears a close resemblance to the excruciatingly bad FIRST YANK IN TOKYO--with a very similar plot about smuggling out a scientist out from under Fascist noses to assist the Allied effort to make the atomic bomb. Additionally, the film also is reminiscent of OSS and 13 RUE MADELEINE, though these two films were a bit better--particularly 13 RUE MADELEINE.

It's not a bad film (FIRST YANK IN TOKYO was just terrible, though), but isn't one I'd rush out to see. I just expected so much more! Plus, starring Gary Cooper, you'd expect more.
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