Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

5 Fingers, 1952

Here's a civilised treat for a rainy afternoon .... Take some people we like - James Mason, Danielle Darrieux - and a writer/director at the top of his game: Joseph L. Mankiewicz (or Mank) and put them to film a true story, full of exciting twists and turns:
In neutral Turkey during WWII, the ambitious and extremely efficient valet for the British ambassador tires of being a servant and forms a plan to promote himself to rich gentleman of leisure. His employer has many secret documents; he will photograph them, and with the help of a refugee Countess, sell them to the Nazis. When he makes a lot of money, he will retire to South America with the Countess as his wife.

That busy actor Michael Rennie is fine as the intrepid British counter intelligence agent and John Weingraf as the German Ambassador to Turkey also score. Bernard Herrmann does the music score and script is by Michael Wilson. No wonder Hitch wanted Mason for NORTH BY NORTHWEST after seeing him here as Diello the suave perfect valet who is not what he seems. Danelle's mercenary Countess has a great line to a German underling:  "I wish you wouldn't look at me as if you had some source of income other than your salary." Mank had the Award-winning hits ALL ABOUT EVE and A LETTER TO THREE WIVES under his belt, with several more to come - I liked his 1950 rare race thriller NO WAY OUT a while back (Mank label) and must see his Cary Grant starrer PEOPLE WILL TALK from this early 50s era soon too. 

Coming up after my trip to Ireland - 4 Jane Fonda items, from IMDB pal Jerry last week: Not seen her first, TALL STORY, or that 1962 Tennessee Willliams comedy PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT; and not seen Vadim's hilariously awful THE GAME IS OVER from 1966 since then - and then there's Godard's TOUT VA BIEN from 1972 when Jane was in revolutionary mode .... will I like all or any of them ?


  1. Five Fingers is really good, I love James Mason! No Way Out is so well acted. I'm not the biggest fan of Sidney Poitier though he's fine but I adore Richard Widmark, he's so venal in this-ironically he and Poitier were best friends in real life and he was from everything thing I've read an extremely kind and liberal man. And of course the film also has my beloved Linda Darnell, so wonderfully tough in the film. Love her line reading when she brushes off some thug by saying "We're all outta your favorite dish."

    As far as the Jane movies go, Tall Story is just fluff with dated attitudes but it's cute. Period of Adjustment tries for a more complex comedy, which makes sense coming from Tennessee Williams, and its successful about half the time. The Game is Over is middling and I couldn't wait for Tout Va Bien to end.

  2. Nice comments. I will probably feel the same about the Godard/Fonda/Montand opus.
    No Way Out was a terrific discovery and Linda was marvellous in it, I reviewed here at the time, if you want to check Darnell label.