In post-World War II Berlin, the British Susanne Mallison travels to Berlin to visit her older brother Martin Mallison, a military man who married German Bettina Mallison. The naive Susanne... See full summary »
Based on a true story. In neutral Turkey during WWII, the ambitious and extremely efficient valet for the British ambassador tires of being a servant and forms a plan to promote himself to rich gentleman of leisure. His employer has many secret documents; he will photograph them, and with the help of a refugee Countess, sell them to the Nazis. When he makes a certain amount of money, he will retire to South America with the Countess as his wife.Written by
Ken Yousten <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The real Cicero was Elyesa Bazna, an Albanian. In his book "I Was Cicero" he retells the story, listing his collaborators as a chambermaid and his niece. The character of the countess was a Hollywood fabrication. See more »
When the Britsh ambassador's valet Diello (Brit James Mason) suggests that his new German spymaster change the combination on the latter's safe, he gives the existing combination 1-30-33 as based on the date of Hitler's rise to power, suggesting instead 6-18-15, the date of the Battle of Waterloo. One would expect an employee of the Britsh Embassy (particularly one born in the UK) to have used "European" notation (date/month/year) instead of US notation (month/day/year), particularly when speaking with a German. See more »
L. C. Moyzisch:
We would prefer that you come to the German consul at the same hour if you like.
No, thank you, although I'm tempted. So many more people go into German consulates than come out. I've often wondered what possible attraction would keep them there so long.
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Before the movie title: This is a true story. All the exterior scenes in this picture were filmed in the locales associated with the story. See more »
This forgotten film brilliantly directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz is one of the best spy films we have seen in recent memory. The film holds the viewer in suspense up the last frame. Mr. Mankiewicz was working on the fine screen play written by Michael Wilson, based on a real incident told by L. C. Moyzisch, a German officer who is a key player in the story.
The film opens in Ankara, Turkey's capital during WWII. The place is swarming with spies and intrigues. We are taken to a reception where we encounter Countess Anna, a beautiful woman of uncertain age, who is living below her means in the country. Anna asks for monetary help to a German officer, who she has met before. At this point, we meet Diello, a valet to the English ambassador to Turkey. Diello has a proposal for Moyzisch, a German connected to the embassy. He proposes a deal where he will cooperate in spying for the Germans in exchange of heavy amounts of money.
Since Diello needs a front, Countess Anna, becomes the a desirable object for this man's plans in how to conduct the business. Thus the impoverished countess agrees to the plan. Countess Anna becomes a hostess who gathers in her new elegant surroundings the cream of the diplomatic society. The countess goes along with the scheme, but at the same time, she deeply resents the idea of having Diello, a man that is not from her circle and background, be treated as her equal.
The film works because what we see is what really happened. This being a real story, is not something that came out of some writer's imagination. On the contrary, we are completely astounded in the way this Diello was able to fool his superiors at the embassy. We watch as Diello goes about the business of spying right at the ambassador's office without being caught.
There are two ironic twists to the story that come as complete surprises to us. In a way, because one is not expecting, the first one is the betrayal to Diello by the heartless countess, and the second one is at the conclusion of the film. This last one is something that keeps us laughing along with Diello and in turn to the woman who double crossed him.
James Mason, is excellent as Diello. Mr. Mason was an actor that always delivered. In his English films, as well as some of his Hollywood movies, this actor projected such a powerful figure. His method of working always amazes because his performances always build up to unexpected results. The film belongs to Mr. Mason, who is terrific and charismatic.
Danielle Darrieux, one of the best French film actresses of all times, makes a delightful appearance as Countess Anna. She transforms herself from a the woman trying to eke out a living to the sophisticated lady of a society she felt comfortable with because she was born into it.
The supporting roles are quite good. The surprise was Herbert Berghof, one of the most famous acting teachers of all times making a rare appearance.
"5 Fingers" has a great black and white cinematography by Norman Brodine who captures some of those Turkish locales in all their splendor. The film score by Bernard Herrmann adds another dimension to the film. Thanks to Mr. Mankiewicz, this is a film that will please his admirers.
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