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In 1943, in German-occupied Holland, an agent known as "Rembrandt" (Col. Pieter Deventer) is caught by the Germans while transmitting messages to British intelligence. During interrogation Col. Helmuth Dietrich offers to release Pieter if he becomes a double agent for Germans. However, Deventer is rescued by a renegade Resistance fighter known as "The Scarf." Once in England, Col. Deventer meets with Col. Larraby, who asks him to evaluate a potential agent, Carla Van Oven, for an assignment to impersonate a schoolteacher with ties to the Nazis. Although at first he doesn't entirely trust her, the two fall in love. Carla is sent to the town of Arnhem where she pretends to collaborate with the Nazis as planned, at the same time acting as a liaison between "The Scarf" and British intelligence. When "The Scarf's" attacks start to turn out badly, Pieter suspects Carla of passing on advance warnings to the Germans.
Betrayed (1954) is loosely inspired by the real-life allied military operation at Arnhem in September 1944, known as Operation Market Garden. Field Marshal Montgomery planned to fly divisions of paratroopers into the region in order to capture several key bridges and hasten Germany's defeat. However, lack of sufficient transport, unlucky timing and unexpectedly strong German resistance meant that the operation failed in its key objectives and that large numbers of paratroopers were stranded behind enemy lines; approximately fifteen hundred Allied troops were killed and six thousand captured. In the film, by contrast, the military operation is instead endangered by intelligence leaks.
Betrayed is especially notable for its location work in London and Holland; it was in fact the most extensive use of actual Dutch locations--mainly Arnhem and Amsterdam--in a Hollywood feature to date. The film's cinematographer, F. A. (Freddie) Young, takes full advantage of the picturesque Dutch buildings and landscape; the overall color scheme and many of the compositions are clearly inspired by Dutch painting. Young (1902-1998) was among the most accomplished color cinematographers of the era, winning Oscars® for Ivanhoe (1952), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Ryan's Daughter (1970).
Gregory Peck was originally slated for the lead part, and at one point Richard Widmark was also proposed to co-star. Ava Gardner, who had played opposite Gable to smoldering effect in Mogambo (1953), was considered for the female lead before Lana Turner was finally chosen. As a result, Betrayed became the fourth and last collaboration between Clark Gable and Lana Turner, the previous three being Honky Tonk (1941), Somewhere I'll Find You (1942) and Homecoming (1948). It was also Gable's last picture for MGM before he decided to pursue an independent career. The studio was reluctant to offer Gable the kind of terms he wanted for his new contract, in part because the studio as a whole had fallen on hard times, and in part because three of Gable's most recent projects--the Westerns Across the Wide Missouri (1951) and Lone Star (1952) and the Iron Curtain melodrama Never Let Me Go (1953)--had proved box-office disasters. The studio tried to resume contract negotiations- to no avail -when Mogambo turned out to be a box office smash and brought in rave reviews for Gable's performance.
Director Gottfried Reinhardt (1913-1994) was the son of the famed theater director Max Reinhardt and wrote a 1979 biography of him entitled Genius. From the 1940s to the early 50s Reinhardt worked mainly as a producer, his most enduring (and troubled) project being The Red Badge of Courage (1951). His directing debut was the Dorothy McGuire/Van Johnson melodrama Invitation (1952). Starting in the mid-1950s, Reinhardt divided his time between directing Hollywood and West-German productions. By far the best-known film of the latter period is the Kirk Douglas courtroom drama Town Without Pity (1961).
Unlike Clark Gable's previous film, Mogambo, Betrayed was neither a box office nor a critical success during its initial release. While reviewers at the time tended to criticize the direction and the screenplay, they were virtually unanimous in their praise of F. A. Young's color cinematography; the Variety reviewer compared it to the FitzPatrick travelog films. Jack Moffitt of The Hollywood Reporter may have hyperbolized somewhat, but he was more on the mark about Freddie Young's achievement; he writes: "The darkly tinted closeups of Gable (who is of Dutch ancestry) often look as though they'd been painted by Rembrandt." The film is also interesting today as an example of how scriptwriters of the era tried to capitalize on the fad for Freudian psychoanalysis, particularly in its depiction of "The Scarf's" unusually strong devotion for his mother.
Director: Gottfried Reinhardt
Screenplay: Ronald Millar, George Froeschel
Cinematography: F. A. Young
Art Director: Alfred Junge
Music: Walter Goehr; music and lyrics for "Johnny Come Home" by Walter Goehr and Ronald Millar
Editor: John Dunning
Miss Turner's Costumes: Balmain, Paris
Principal Cast: Clark Gable (Col. Pieter Deventer); Lana Turner (Carla Van Oven); Victor Mature (The Scarf); Louis Calhern (Gen. Ten Eyck); O. E. Hasse (Col. Helmuth Dietrich); Wilfrid Hyde-White (Gen. Charles Larraby); Nora Swinburne (The Scarf's Mother); Lily Kann (Jan's Grandmother); Brian Smith (Jan).
C-109m. Closed captioning.
by James Steffen