Thursday, February 07, 2002

5 FINGERS (1952)

A spy thriller based on truth (although apparently quite embellished by Joseph Mankiewicz, the director and co-writer). James Mason was very good as a valet for a high-level British diplomat in Turkey during WWII. For money (not ideology), he sells top-secret documents to the Germans, although they wind up being afraid to use any of the information for fear that he might be a double agent. I wonder if Mason was playing one of the earliest of the Hollywood anti-heroes; ultimately, Mason does get punished, but there are no dashing heroic figures on the side of the Allies (except Michael Rennie, who doesn't get a chance to make much of an impression). Though not exactly admirable, Mason's character is sly and unflappable. A femme fatale of sorts (Danielle Darrieux) creates most of the intrigue. A wonderfully Hitchcockian scene late in the movie involving a tripped fuse and a maid with a vacuum cleaner had me tense.

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