5 Fingers (1952)

107-108 mins | Drama | March 1952

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Operation Cicero and Five Fingers . According to a SatRev article on the picture, the title was changed to 5 Fingers "to avoid any association with the recent race riots in [Cicero] Illinois." Before the film's opening credits, a written statement reads: "This is a true story. All the exterior scenes in this picture were filmed in the locales associated with the story." Also before the title card, there appears a sequence set in the British House of Commons on 18 Oct 1950, at which time the publication of the book Operation Cicero by L. C. Moyzisch is discussed. The actor playing the Foreign Secretary acknowledges that the espionage story is true and that the mysterious "Cicero" sold vital secrets to the Germans. Intermittent narration describing the action is heard throughout the film, and at the picture's end, another written statement reads: "20th Century-Fox Film Corporation wishes to express sincere thanks and appreciation to the government and the people of Turkey for their generous cooperation during the filming of the exterior scenes for this picture."
       5 Fingers is loosely based on the life of Elyeza Bazna (1905--1971), the valet to the English ambassador to Turkey during World War II, Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen. [Bazna's name is spelled several different ways by both contemporary and modern sources.] Between Oct 1943 and Feb 1944, Bazna photographed a large number of top secret documents from the ambassador's safe and sold them to the Germans. L. C. Moyzisch, the author of the book on which the film is based, ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Operation Cicero and Five Fingers . According to a SatRev article on the picture, the title was changed to 5 Fingers "to avoid any association with the recent race riots in [Cicero] Illinois." Before the film's opening credits, a written statement reads: "This is a true story. All the exterior scenes in this picture were filmed in the locales associated with the story." Also before the title card, there appears a sequence set in the British House of Commons on 18 Oct 1950, at which time the publication of the book Operation Cicero by L. C. Moyzisch is discussed. The actor playing the Foreign Secretary acknowledges that the espionage story is true and that the mysterious "Cicero" sold vital secrets to the Germans. Intermittent narration describing the action is heard throughout the film, and at the picture's end, another written statement reads: "20th Century-Fox Film Corporation wishes to express sincere thanks and appreciation to the government and the people of Turkey for their generous cooperation during the filming of the exterior scenes for this picture."
       5 Fingers is loosely based on the life of Elyeza Bazna (1905--1971), the valet to the English ambassador to Turkey during World War II, Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen. [Bazna's name is spelled several different ways by both contemporary and modern sources.] Between Oct 1943 and Feb 1944, Bazna photographed a large number of top secret documents from the ambassador's safe and sold them to the Germans. L. C. Moyzisch, the author of the book on which the film is based, was a military attaché at the German Embassy in Ankara and the contact for Bazna, who was given the code name "Cicero" by the Germans. Despite the genuine nature of the documents supplied by Bazna, as shown in the film, jealousies between high-ranking German officials prevented them from being used. The Germans were also afraid that Cicero was a British counter-intelligence agent. Bazna, who received £300,000 from the German government and was called "the highest paid spy in the world," was paid mostly in counterfeit British pounds that had been printed in Germany. As in the film, Moyzisch's book was discussed in the British House of Commons, at which time the foreign secretary proclaimed that measures had been taken to prevent such an occurrence from happening again.
       According to a 30 Oct 1950 LAT article, after the incident in the House of Commons, a number of film studios and producers were interested in obtaining the rights to Moyzisch's book, including Arthur J. Rank, Alexander Korda and M-G-M. Modern sources report that Henry Hathaway was originally scheduled to direct the picture before Joseph L. Mankiewicz became interested in Michael Wilson's adaptation of the book. According to the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Libary, Mankiewicz worked extensively on the screenplay, but modern sources report that he agreed to forego onscreen credit for his contribution to the screenplay in exchange for being allowed to direct the project. Studio records indicate that Fox also purchased a magazine article about Bazna entitled "The Highest Paid Spy in History" by Robert M. W. Kempner ( The Saturday Evening Post , 28 Jan 1950) in order to protect its rights in regards to Bazna's story. Kempner's article was not used in the preparation of the screenplay for 5 Fingers , however.
       According to a 2 Aug 1951 HR news item, Micheline Prelle was originally signed for the role of "Anna" (which was fictional, unlike the majority of the other characters in the film), but had to withdraw from the cast due to pregnancy. Although some contemporary and modern sources refer to Michael Rennie's character as "George Travers," he is called "Colin Travers" in the film. The CBCS lists both Frank Hemingway and John Sutton as the film's narrators, but only Sutton was heard in the viewed print. As noted in the onscreen credits, the exterior sequences in the film were shot on location in Ankara and Istanbul, with doubles being used for the principal actors. According to a Jul 1951 Var article, while shooting on location, Mankiewicz was warned that "he would not be permitted to bring his camera crew into the British Embassy grounds--and that any exterior shots, even with telephoto lenses, would be regarded as an unfriendly act." While filming in Turkey, Mankiewicz met the real Bazna, according to an Apr 1952 Life article. The article also noted that Bazna's offer to serve as a technical advisor on the film was turned down. Studio records report that Moyzisch's offer to act as a technical advisor for the film also was refused, and that after the picture's release, Moyzisch was very displeased by the depiction of him and requested that his name be taken off the credits.
       On 13 Sep 1951, HR reported that writer Michael Wilson had been subpoenaed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities and was subsequently laid off from Twentieth Century-Fox. Following Wilson's testimony before the committee, during which he refused to confirm or deny membership in the Communist party, he was blacklisted and received only one onscreen credit, for the 1954 film Salt of the Earth (see below), until 1965, when he received credit for The Sandpiper . Wilson did contribute to a number of other screenplays, including Lawrence of Arabia , but did not receive onscreen credit for them.
       For their work on 5 Fingers , Mankiewicz received an Academy Award nomination for Best Direction, and Wilson received an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay. The film, which garnered excellent reviews, was named one of the ten best films of 1952 by NYT and FD . Lux Radio Theatre broadcast two versions of the story, both of which starred Mason and his wife, Pamela Kellino. The first show aired on 13 Oct 1952, and the second was broadcast on 1 Feb 1955. The 20th Century-Fox television program broadcasted a version of the story, entitled Operation Cicero , in Dec 1956. The one-hour telefilm was directed by Hubert Cornfield and starred Ricardo Montalban and Maria Riva. From 3 Oct 1959--6 Jan 1960, the NBC television network ran a series very loosely based on the story, entitled Five Fingers , starring David Hedison and Luciana Paluzzi. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
16 Feb 1952.
---
Daily Variety
13 Feb 52
p. 3.
Daily Variety
13 Mar 1952.
---
Film Daily
14 Feb 52
p. 6.
Hollywood Citizen-News
2 Apr 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Oct 50
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 51
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Aug 51
p. 10, 19
Hollywood Reporter
13 Sep 51
p. 1, 4
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 51
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 51
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 51
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 52
p 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 53
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 53
p. 2.
Life
7 Apr 1952.
---
Los Angeles Daily News
2 Apr 1952.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
1 Aug 1951.
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Oct 50
part II, p. 10.
Motion Picture Daily
13 Feb 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
16 Feb 52
p. 1237.
New York Times
22 Feb 52
p. 15.
New York Times
23 Feb 52
p. 7.
New York Times
2 Mar 1952.
---
New York Times
28 Dec 52
part II, p. 1.
New Yorker
1 Mar 1952.
---
Saturday Review
8 Mar 1952.
---
Time
10 Mar 1952.
---
Variety
18 Jul 1951.
---
Variety
13 Feb 52
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dir of addl seq
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
MUSIC
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr
Dial dir
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Der fall Cicero by L. C. Moyzisch (Saarbruecken, Germany, 1949).
MUSIC
Mazurka in A minor by Frédéric Chopin.
SONGS
"Monsieur Lenoble," music and lyrics by Michel Emer
"Adieu mon coeur," music by Marguerite Monnot, lyrics by Henri Contet
"J'ai peur de t'aimer," music by Alfred Newman, lyrics by Tanis Chandler
+
SONGS
"Monsieur Lenoble," music and lyrics by Michel Emer
"Adieu mon coeur," music by Marguerite Monnot, lyrics by Henri Contet
"J'ai peur de t'aimer," music by Alfred Newman, lyrics by Tanis Chandler
"Brunnhilde's Battle Cry" from the opera Die Walküre , music and libretto by Richard Wagner.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Operation Cicero
Five Fingers
Release Date:
March 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 22 February 1952
Production Date:
mid August--late September 1951
addl seq 18 October 1951
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
22 February 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1678
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
107-108
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15489
SYNOPSIS

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 ... +


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." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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