5 Fingers (1952)

5 Fingers (1952) is an espionage noir thriller drama directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and produced by Otto Lang. 

The screenplay written by Michael Wilson was based on the 1950 book Operation Cicero (original German: Der Fall Cicero) by Ludwig Carl Moyzisch, Nazi commercial attaché at the German embassy in Ankara, Turkey (1943–44).

James Mason plays the spy on a mission, darkly manoeuvring around in in ambience of espionage rather well, with his dark and sneaking ways, selling big secrets to some big Nazis.

Fabulous and famous, the spy code-named Cicero was one of the biggest names of World War II. The resulting drama film about the trusted but hugely amoral Albanian valet who had superb access to British secrets, was thrilling and cerebral and different enough to be nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Director for Mankiewicz and Best Screenplay for Wilson. 

James Mason admires der Führer in 5 Fingers (1952)

Mankiewicz was also nominated for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures by the Directors Guild of America and Wilson was nominated for Best Written American Drama by the Writers Guild of America. He won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Screenplay.

During the late 1940s and into the 1950s, Joseph Mankiewicz was probably the most successful man in Hollywood--directing and writing such amazing films as "A Letter to Three Wives", "All About Eve" and "House of Strangers". However, by the time he made "Five Fingers", Mankiewicz was at the end of his contract with Twentieth Century- Fox--and it sure was an excellent farewell.

James Mason in 5 Fingers (1952)

James Mason and Danielle Darrieux combine to create a straight collision in sexual and class tension. 5 Fingers is an unusual domestic spy thriller and the film's use of location shooting in Berlin, Ankara, London, and Istanbul adds glamour and class as befits its at one time authentic subject matter.

Treason for no reason is the slick name of the game for James Mason's fast-moving and menacing spy creation Ulysses Diello, and even the screen Nazis can't believe how foul James Mason's character is a spy because he's motivated only by money.

Far from being a downbeat spy movie, 5 Fingers (1952) the motivations and reactions are what powers the story of an unexpected and surprising spy incident.

Danielle Darrieux in 5 Fingers (1952)

The Countess Anna Staviska is an entirely made up character for the movie of 5 Fingers. Not a boring character at all she is a Frenchwoman and the widow of a pro-German Polish count. Now destitute, the countess volunteers to become a spy for a fee, but her offer is declined.

He gives his money to Anna for safekeeping and pays her a portion of it, provided that he is allowed to use her new villa as a meeting place for his transactions. When the valet also tells Anna of his dream of living in South America with her, she slaps his face but agrees to his conditions.

Danielle Darrieux in 5 Fingers (1952)

The film is based on the true story of Albanian-born Elyesa Bazna, a spy with the code name of Cicero who worked for the Nazis in 1943–44 while he was employed as valet to the British ambassador to Turkey, Sir Hughe Montgomery Knatchbull-Hugessen. Bazna would photograph top-secret documents and deliver the pictures to Franz von Papen, the German ambassador in Turkey and a former German chancellor, using Moyzisch as the intermediary.

In the smoky corridors of Hollywood's clandestine dealings, a tale of intrigue unfolded as 5 Fingers (1952) clawed its way into production, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of film noir. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, a maestro with a penchant for weaving narratives as intricate as the shadows that cloak a back alley, the film emerged from the clandestine realms of espionage and betrayal.

Mankiewicz, a luminary with a quiver full of cinematic triumphs, including the acclaimed All About Eve (1950), orchestrated the murky symphony of 5 Fingers with a deft touch. The alleys of Ankara and the parlours of high-stakes espionage provided the backdrop for a narrative where duplicity and cunning played lead roles.

James Mason in 5 Fingers (1952)

20th Century Fox, the studio synonymous with the glitz of Hollywood, bankrolled this venture into the noir abyss. The marriage of Fox's resources and Mankiewicz's noir sensibilities birthed a cinematic endeavour that transcended the standard fare of the era.

At the forefront of this shadowy drama stood James Mason, a thespian with the gravitas to breathe life into the morally ambiguous protagonist. Mason, often hailed for his enigmatic performances, lent a nuanced complexity to the character of Ulysses Diello, a cipher navigating the treacherous waters of wartime espionage.

James Mason and Michael Rennie in 5 Fingers (1952)

Danielle Darrieux, a luminous presence in the world of French cinema, graced the screen as the beguiling countess entangled in the web of Diello's machinations. The chemistry between Mason and Darrieux, akin to a clandestine rendezvous in the noir realm, added layers to the film's narrative.

As the cameras rolled and the chiaroscuro of betrayal played out frame by frame, 5 Fingers unfurled as a chiaroscuro masterpiece in the noir tapestry. Mankiewicz, with his directorial acumen, sculpted a narrative where loyalty was a commodity traded in the shadows, and every glance held the weight of an unspoken secret.

The production, shrouded in the enigma of espionage, mirrored the thematic depth of the narrative. Mankiewicz, the orchestrator of this noir symphony, crafted a film that lingered in the shadows of moral ambiguity, a testament to the allure and peril of the clandestine world. 5 Fingers, a chiaroscuro ballet of treachery, etched its name into the noir pantheon, where shadows whispered secrets and every frame bore the imprint of moral duality.

5 Fingers does favour the British but it doesn't make a total monkey out of the Nazis, but rather Ulysses Diello makes monkeys out of everybody. A great shadow figure, bold as brass Diello extorts and sneaks money out of the Nazis, who still don't trust him.

Partial documentary-style narration and location combination, house 5 Fingers (1952) with the best of docu-noir, a style best adopted sparingly, as it is here. A lot can happen in a neutral country most especially within the confines of the archetypical cloak and dagger thriller which 5 Fingers (1952) may be.

James Mason in 5 Fingers (1952)

It's one of the most intelligent spy thrillers ever thanks to an Oscar-winning screenplay by Michael Wilson (Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, and the original Planet of the Apes). No satisfactory reason has ever been brought forth as to why this film is called 5 fingers, and it may only possibly refer within this espionage cloak and dagger thriller as a reference to the five fingers required to open a safe, as there is a significant amount of interesting safe work in the movie.

Bernhard Herrmann music always provides intensity and makes any good movie better, it is beautiful to hear and rooting for our wicked villain must be a further noir pleasure, in those shadows, swiftly spying and lurking, cloaking his movements, sneaking around about behind closed doors, unlocking safes and bold as brass negotiating with the Nazis, Ulysses Diello is a class and top-rate cinematic spy of all time

One of coolest performances of all time it is in fact easy to see why Alfred Hitchcock cast James Mason as villain Van Damm in North By Northwest.

Lust Greed Passion Desire Sin reel off the five fingers pictured on the 5 Fingers poster art, advertised also as The True Story Of The Most Fabulous Spy Of  All Time. Super suave and icy cool intelligent James Mason plays the kind of Englishman who resents society so much unable to fathom why he was not born a natural aristocrat when he clearly is one.

Michael Rennie in 5 Fingers (1952)

Managing to fool and foil both Germans and British, Ulysses Diello ends 5 Fingers in fine and powerful Hollywood irony and in tense and intense form, tense to the last and intensely amusing as James Mason powers on and fools the lot of them, including encounters with a cleaning lady, and working apace at the embassy safe.

James Mason smells a letter in 5 Fingers (1952)

5 Fingers (1952)

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Producer: Otto Lang

Release Date (Theaters): Feb 22, 1952  Original

Release Date (Streaming): Nov 25, 2015

Runtime: 1h 48m

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

5 Fingers (1952) at Wikipedia

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