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In 1780 Major John Boulton is recruited by Colonial intelligence as a counterspy who will feign desertion to the British forces. His mission is to discover the identity of an American traitor with the code name Gustavus. Although prominent Tory Dr. Odell suspects Boulton of being a double agent, the spy wins the friendship and respect of British spymaster Major John Andre and, in doing so, discovers that the traitor is none other than American hero, General Benedict Arnold, who is planning to surrender the key colonial position of West Point to the English.Written by
Ironically, the narrator Paul Frees was a spy. According to author Peter Guralnick (in "Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley"), Frees was an undercover narcotics agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs in the 1960s. See more »
"Blow the Man Down" is heard on the soundtrack during a scene involving the man o' war. The sea shanty was composed anonymously in the 1860s, eighty-odd years after the incidents in this film. See more »
Although no one should depend on this film for his honor's thesis on the American Revolution. But this account of the foiling of the plot of Benedict Arnold to betray the American Revolution is certainly a fine drama with Cornel Wilde in the lead as an American secret agent who stops the Arnold betrayal of the fort at West Point way before the site became where the U.S. Military Academy is located. Wilde is no James Bond type spy, he's got the charm of an 18th century Bond, but he survives on his wits not any gadgets.
The focus on this story is Major John Andre who was the go between for Arnold with the British. Andre is played with the charm and heroic dash that he has come down in history with by Michael Wilding. He's captured but Arnold escapes and joins the British army in the last year of the Revolution. A little too late for the Mother country to put his knowledge to good use.
Although I liked this film very much I wish a film would come out with Arnold as the central character instead of Andre. Arnold is played here by Robert Douglas. With some very good reason Arnold felt he was not getting his due from the colonial cause. He may have been a sellout rat, but he was in possession of a brilliant military mind. His second wife Peggy Shippen of Philadelphia who was of Tory sympathies had a lot to do with him selling out the Americans. She's fascinating in herself and we don't see her.
Wilde and Wilding are a matched pair of gallant adversaries. I recommend The Scarlet Coat for dash and élan, if not accuracy.
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