Monday, November 14, 2011

Five Fingers

The Fox Movie Channel is airing the interesting movie Five Fingers tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM. The thing that makes it so interesting is that it's based upon a true story.

James Mason stars as Ulysses, the valet to the British ambassador to Ankara in World War II. Turkey was officially neutral during World War II, with the result that all sorts of people made their way to the country. There were diplomats from both sides, spies from both sides, and even refugees of all stripes impoverished by the war and trying to eke out some sort of existence in a neutral country. One night, at a party, Ulysses meets Polish countess Anna (Danielle Darrieux). She's one of the refugees, and could sure use a good deal of money. Ulysses has really always been in things more for himself, so he comes up with a plan: use his connection as the countess' former butler, make money by selling secrets to the Nazis, and then running off with Anna to South America.

Ulysses approaches the Germans and even sells them some documents. Needless to say, the Germans need to be convinced that the documents are real. After all, it would be easy enough for somebody to try to dupe them. So the Germans wait and see if any of the information in the documents about future events comes to light as predicted. Meanwhile, Anna has second thoughts about her relationship with Ulysses, and the British have discovered that somebody's handing over documents to the Nazis, so they tighten the net on the spy, whoever he may be....

As I mentioned at the beginning, Five Fingers is based on a true story of a chapter in World War II called Operation Cicero. There are changes made, of course, in no small part because a lot of the spy stories aren't quite good enough to be Hollywood movies. One of the big changes is that the Ulysses character (in real life an Albanian named Bazna) didn't wind up in South America in real life. In fact, his usefulness to the Nazis waned as they were losing the war, and they eventually left Turkey, leaving Bazna to fend for himself. Still, the story as told in the movie is quite an interesting one. James Mason was always good at playing not-quite sympathetic people who still looked distinguished, so he's an excellent fit for the role. Fox had been making a bunch of docudramas and biopics during the late 1940s and early 1950s, and Five Fingers fits in well with the rest of them.

Sadly, Five Fingers does not seem to have gotten a DVD release.

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