Tag Archives: Spies

Friday night movie: Five Fingers (1952)

Here’s tonight’s movie:

IMDB rating: [7.8/10]

And rated 100% at Rotten Tomatoes, and 90% liked it.

Here’s the 1952 review from the New York Times:

Those who may fear that the old days of silken spy films are as dead as the gone days of diamond tiaras and princely diplomacy can now settle back in the comfort and the tingling satisfaction to be had from Twentieth Century Fox “Five Fingers,” which arrived at the Roxy yesterday. For here, in this literate entertainment Joseph L. Mankiewicz has made with a cast that might well have been recruited at an embassy function in pre-war Berlin, is as dandy an espionage thriller as ever went through the polished hands of a Grahame Greene or an Alfred Hitchcock—or for that matter, an E. P. Oppenheim.

And what’s more, added to the relish of this spicy adventure that is played in a particularly suave and crafty manner by James Mason in the central spy role is the fact that the story of it is almost a literal account of a fantastic piece of spy work that was accomplished in Ankara, Turkey, in 1944. That story has since been recounted by a former attaché of the German Embassy there in a book called “Operation Cicero.” It is this book by L. C. Moyzisch upon which the film is based.

And unlike modern movies, the twist ending at the end actually made sense of the biggest unanswered question I had while watching it.

Happy Friday!

Friday night movie: 13 Rue Madeleine (1946)

Here’s tonight’s movie:

Description:

During World War II, Charles Stevenson Gibson, a St. Louis attorney with an extensive background in international affairs, is chosen by President Roosevelt to organize the secret activities of a new Intelligence Corps. Gibson, in turn, selects Robert Sharkey, a widely traveled, multi-lingual scholar who served with distinction in World War I, to administer the complex training program.

Selected groups of volunteers report to Washington for rigorous training before assignment overseas. In 1944, the candidates selected for the 77th group include Suzanne de Beaumont, a French citizen who became stranded in the U.S. when France fell, and whose husband is an artillery officer in the French army. Jeff Lassiter, the son of an American consul, educated in Geneva and Oxford and recruited from the Officers’ Training School at the University of California at Los Angeles, and Bill O’Connell, a Rutgers graduate and former employee of the foreign department of a major bank, are also chosen.

At a secluded country estate, the twenty-two candidates are given two weeks of intensive testing to see if they qualify for further training. Gibson tells Sharkey he knows that one of the candidates is a German agent and Sharkey is assigned to identify him.

IMDB rating: [7.0/10]

Here’s a spy image which is pretty cool, too:

A mysterious spy lurks at night
A mysterious spy lurks at night

Happy Friday!

Friday night movie: Decision Before Dawn (1951)

For Friday night, I thought I’d re-post a movie I like a lot.

IMDB rating: [7.5/10]

Description:

WWII is entering its last phase: Germany is in ruins, but does not yield. The US army lacks crucial knowledge about the German units operating on the opposite side of the Rhine, and decides to send two German prisoners to gather information. The scheme is risky: the Gestapo retains a terribly efficient network to identify and capture spies and deserters. Moreover, it is not clear that “Tiger”, who does not mind any dirty work as long as the price is right, and war-weary “Happy”, who might be easily betrayed by his feelings, are dependable agents. After Tiger and another American agent are successfully infiltrated, Happy is parachuted in Bavaria. His duty: find out the whereabouts of a powerful German armored unit moving towards the western front.

Happy Friday!

Friday night spies: another two episodes of Secret Agent

My favorite espionage TV show is “Danger Man” with Patrick McGoohan, which later morphed into “Secret Agent”. The show takes place during the 1960s, right at the height of the Cold War.

The actor, Patrick McGoohan, refused to perform romantic scenes on camera because of his religious beliefs. He turned down the roles of James Bond and Simon Templar because of these moral concerns (see below). And that dedication to moral excellence shines through in every frame of “Danger Man” and “Secret Agent”.

Here’s a description of Patrick McGoohan.

Excerpt:

Main character John Drake worked for NATO as a special security agent and was free to travel the world working on special problems for free world governments. The story lines set an early precedent for non-violence, preferring to have Drake use his wits and his fists rather than a gun. McGoohan influenced the program from the start.

The themes of morality and individuality fit in with his personal philosophy as well as his vision of what the character John Drake was supposed to be.

As both a moral and opinionated man, McGoohan held strong views and was forceful about seeing that they were carried out. He had insisted at the very first meeting on the script for the first episode that the bedroom scene be cut out. In fact, he stipulated that romantic involvements would have to be eliminated if he were to play the role, and consequently none appeared in either this series or the ‘Secret Agent’ series that followed.

[…]It should come as no surprise that when McGoohan was offered the role as the first James Bond, he turned it down – several times – as being incompatible with the type of role he wanted to play. He says it was a decision he has never regretted.

[…]As an actor, McGoohan had now carved out a voice all his own…. John Drake was a loner, an individual, and a moral character.

From the UK Telegraph:

[H]e was offered the roles of James Bond and Simon Templar (The Saint). He turned both down.

He once recalled: “When we started Danger Man the producer wanted me to carry a gun and to have an affair with a different girl each week. I refused. I am not against romance on television, but sex is the antithesis of romance. Television is a gargantuan master that all sorts of people watch at all sorts of time, and it has a moral obligation towards its audience.”

Here’s tonight’s first episode: Sting in the Tail

Description:

Drake travels to Lebanon to lure an assassin to France, where he can be arrested and tried for murder. Drake realizes that the best way to reach the assassin is by approaching his woman, but how will he gain her confidence?

IMDB mean rating: [8.6/10]

IMDB median rating: [9/10]

TV Guide rating: [9.0/10]

Here’s tonight’s second episode: Are You Going to be More Permanent?

Description:

In Geneva, two senior British spies have gone missing. Drake is dispatched to find the cause. Drake replaces the station chief and investigates each of the three M9 agents in order to discover which one is working for the other side.

IMDB mean rating: [8.5/10]

IMDB median rating: [8/10]

TV Guide rating: [9.1/10]

Happy Friday!

Related posts

Friday night spies: two more episodes of Secret Agent

My favorite espionage TV show is “Danger Man” with Patrick McGoohan, which later morphed into “Secret Agent”. The show takes place during the 1960s, right at the height of the Cold War.

The actor, Patrick McGoohan, refused to perform romantic scenes on camera because of his religious beliefs. He turned down the roles of James Bond and Simon Templar because of these moral concerns (see below). And that dedication to moral excellence shines through in every frame of “Danger Man” and “Secret Agent”.

Here’s a description of Patrick McGoohan.

Excerpt:

Main character John Drake worked for NATO as a special security agent and was free to travel the world working on special problems for free world governments. The story lines set an early precedent for non-violence, preferring to have Drake use his wits and his fists rather than a gun. McGoohan influenced the program from the start.

The themes of morality and individuality fit in with his personal philosophy as well as his vision of what the character John Drake was supposed to be.

As both a moral and opinionated man, McGoohan held strong views and was forceful about seeing that they were carried out. He had insisted at the very first meeting on the script for the first episode that the bedroom scene be cut out. In fact, he stipulated that romantic involvements would have to be eliminated if he were to play the role, and consequently none appeared in either this series or the ‘Secret Agent’ series that followed.

[…]It should come as no surprise that when McGoohan was offered the role as the first James Bond, he turned it down – several times – as being incompatible with the type of role he wanted to play. He says it was a decision he has never regretted.

[…]As an actor, McGoohan had now carved out a voice all his own…. John Drake was a loner, an individual, and a moral character.

From the UK Telegraph:

[H]e was offered the roles of James Bond and Simon Templar (The Saint). He turned both down.

He once recalled: “When we started Danger Man the producer wanted me to carry a gun and to have an affair with a different girl each week. I refused. I am not against romance on television, but sex is the antithesis of romance. Television is a gargantuan master that all sorts of people watch at all sorts of time, and it has a moral obligation towards its audience.”

Here’s tonight’s first episode: The Mirror’s New

Description:

A British diplomat in Paris takes home a top secret file and then goes missing for a day, missing an important meeting. He can’t seem to remember what happened during that missing day. Drake is sent to France to investigate.

IMDB mean rating: [8.9/10]

IMDB median rating: [9/10]

TV Guide rating: [9.1/10]

Here’s tonight’s second episode: Parallel Lines Sometimes Meet

Description:

When two nuclear scientists – one Western and one Soviet – go missing, it is assumed they have defected. Drake is sent to the West Indies to investigate.

IMDB mean rating: [9.0/10]

IMDB median rating: [9/10]

TV Guide rating: [9.2/10]

Happy Friday!

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