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A British valet in Turkey during World War II sells secrets to the Germans.
During World War II, Turkey is a neutral country, and in 1944, becomes a hotbed of espionage for Allied and Axis diplomats. One evening, at a reception in Ankara, German ambassador Franz von Papen and English ambassador Sir Frederic both converse with Countess Anna Staviska, the French widow of a pro-German Polish count. The once-wealthy socialite is now so poor that she offers to spy for von Papen, but the ambassador gently refuses. Later that night, German military attaché L. C. Moyzisch is approached by a mysterious man offering to sell photographs of top secret British documents for £20,000. Moyzisch is at first dismissive, but the man's self-assured, eloquent demeanor intrigues Moyzisch, and he states that he will consult with von Papen. The man agrees, then returns to the British Embassy, where he works as Sir Frederic's trusted valet under the name Ulysses Diello. Sir Frederic, aware that Diello was once valet to the late Count Staviska, discusses Anna's poverty with him, not knowing that Diello is secretly in love with her. Soon after, von Papen's dispatch to Berlin, requesting permission to buy the documents, is approved, and Moyzisch meets with Diello, who has been given the code name Cicero. Moyzisch develops Diello's film and is astonished to see that it contains the minutes of the Allies' Teheran conference. Diello demands £15,000 for each additional role of film and arranges to meet Moyzisch in a week, then goes to the seedy area of town where Anna lives. There, Diello gives Anna £5,000 and offers to subsidize a luxurious lifestyle for her if she hides his money. Although she slaps Diello for admitting his feelings for her, Anna agrees to the deal and is soon installed in a lovely villa. Meanwhile, Moyzisch is summoned to Berlin, where Gen. Joseph Kaltenbrunner and Col. von Richter, uncertain of the validity of Cicero's documents, decide to test them by waiting for an upcoming Allied bombing mentioned in one of the papers. After the bombing takes place, von Papen is angered that the city's residents were not warned, and Moyzisch buys another set of documents from Diello, who obtains them by stealing them from Sir Frederic's safe, photographing them in his office and then replacing them. When the Turkish foreign office begins to suspect that von Papen is involved in espionage, British counter-intelligence agent Colin Travers is sent to Ankara, while German officials, still fearing that Cicero is working for the Allies, send von Richter to investigate. Diello, who is reaping vast sums for his thefts, enjoys his quarters at Anna's villa and also their deepening relationship, but becomes alarmed when her change in circumstances makes Anna the target of Travers' suspicions. The Germans also focus on Anna, who is believed to favor the English, and fear that Cicero is a British spy working with her. Von Richter meets Diello, who insists that his motives are purely monetary and that all of the documents he has obtained over the past six weeks are genuine. After von Richter leaves, Diello relates to Anna his dream of living in South America, and she promises to go with him. Over the next five weeks, Diello skillfully avoids Travers' security measures and is paid handsomely for more photographed documents, although officials in Germany still refuse to act upon them. Hoping to test him, von Richter asks Diello for documents about a rumored British operation named Overlord, and Diello, who merely photographs anything marked "top secret," agrees to search for them. Travers, theorizing that the leaks are coming from careless remarks made at Anna's soirees, is upset to learn that an intercepted message from von Papen claims that Cicero works inside the British Embassy. Travers installs a new alarm on the ambassador's safe, and Diello, fearing imminent apprehension, misses his next appointment with von Richter. Instead, he arranges for Anna to obtain train tickets and false passports for the two of them. On the morning that they are to leave, however, Diello is stunned to discover that Anna has stolen his money and fled to Switzerland, leaving behind a mysterious letter for Sir Frederic. Desperate for enough money to leave, Diello calls Moyzisch, telling him that he will deliver the Operation Overlord documents to him in Istanbul. Diello then removes the fuse leading to the alarm system and photographs the documents from the safe, but when a cleaning woman replaces the fuse, the alarm sounds and Travers sees Diello running away. Finally deducing Diello's scheme, Travers and his men follow him to Istanbul, where they are prepared to kill him rather than let him pass on the information, which details the Allies' D-Day plans. Von Richter, who intends to kill Diello rather than let him fall into British hands, also sends his men to Istanbul. During the train ride, Diello reads the letter from Anna, in which she tells Sir Frederic that his valet is a German spy. Despite his fury at the betrayal, Diello successfully eludes his pursuers until he meets the Germans and sells them the film for £100,000. Realizing that the Germans intend to kill him, Diello surrenders to Travers, but soon runs away from all of the agents. Back in Ankara, von Papen receives a letter from Anna telling him that Cicero is a British spy, and von Richter discards the information about the Allies' invasions plans. Later, Diello, happily ensconsed in a villa in Rio de Janeiro, is visited one evening by his Brazilian banker and a policeman. The men inform Diello that his money is counterfeit, and that the German-printed forgeries have also been found in the possession of a woman living in Switzerland. As he is arrested, Diello laughs and ruefully calls out, "poor Anna."
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 22 Feb 1952|
|Release Date:||1952||Production Date:||
EB; AFI Library*
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
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A great suspensful movie
Wilson Fletcher 2009-12-26
This is a wonderful unsung WWII spy movie. The actors are great and the story line is first class material. James Mason is superb. This movie should be...
Don't just watch it: listen to the dialogue
5 Fingers was nominated for best screenplay and should have won if not for the stiff competition (High Noon) in 1952. The snappy interchange between the...
I loved it!
Patti Matson 2009-09-13
From the opening scene with the Countess at cocktails, I was wowed by the sophistication and nuance in every scene. I was hooked. When I excitedly told...