The Two-Headed Spy (1959)

93 mins | Drama | March 1959

Director:

Andre DeToth

Writer:

Michael Wilson

Producer:

William Kirby

Cinematographer:

Ted Scaife

Editor:

Raymond Poulton

Production Designer:

Ivan King

Production Company:

Sabre Films, Ltd.
Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this picture was The Clock Without a Face. The film opens with the following written onscreen dedication: "To those men of the Intelligence Service who worked in secrecy. Who struggled and died in darkness. To those lonely and courageous men who risked their lives daily in the enemy camp. This picture is dedicated. And to one of the men Col. A. P. Scotland, O.B.E. British Intelligence Service, whose exploits over the past half century inspired this story. We wish to express our thanks." Although onscreen credits read "and introducing" Erik Schumann, The Two Headed Spy was not his film debut. Schumann had been billed as "Eric Schumann" in several previous films. The DV, NYT and Var reviews variously misspell Harriet Johns's name as Henriette or Harriette.
       Several HR news items reported that Alexander Scotland, who is credited as the film's technical director and on whose military exploits the film is based, worked undercover as a British spy in Germany throughout World War II. However, according to a Nov 2005 Guardian article about the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre, which was run by the British War Office section MI19 and nicknamed the “London Cage,” Scotland had served briefly in the German army at the turn of the century in what is now Namibia. According to the article, Scotland was awarded the O.B.E. for his work in interrogating German prisoners of war during World War I. In 1939, he returned to service and became the head of the London Cage interrogation center, which ...

More Less

The working title of this picture was The Clock Without a Face. The film opens with the following written onscreen dedication: "To those men of the Intelligence Service who worked in secrecy. Who struggled and died in darkness. To those lonely and courageous men who risked their lives daily in the enemy camp. This picture is dedicated. And to one of the men Col. A. P. Scotland, O.B.E. British Intelligence Service, whose exploits over the past half century inspired this story. We wish to express our thanks." Although onscreen credits read "and introducing" Erik Schumann, The Two Headed Spy was not his film debut. Schumann had been billed as "Eric Schumann" in several previous films. The DV, NYT and Var reviews variously misspell Harriet Johns's name as Henriette or Harriette.
       Several HR news items reported that Alexander Scotland, who is credited as the film's technical director and on whose military exploits the film is based, worked undercover as a British spy in Germany throughout World War II. However, according to a Nov 2005 Guardian article about the Combined Services Detailed Interrogation Centre, which was run by the British War Office section MI19 and nicknamed the “London Cage,” Scotland had served briefly in the German army at the turn of the century in what is now Namibia. According to the article, Scotland was awarded the O.B.E. for his work in interrogating German prisoners of war during World War I. In 1939, he returned to service and became the head of the London Cage interrogation center, which was charged with obtaining information from German prisoners of war. Scotland remained there throughout the war, eventually retiring in the late 1940s. Modern historical accounts have charged that extreme methods, including forms of torture, were employed at the London Cage.
       According to HR production charts, the film was shot in London and Berlin. Although James O'Donnell was given credit for the film's screenplay when the picture was initially released, the picture was actually written by blacklisted writer Michael Wilson, whose credit was officially restored by the WGA in 1999. O'Donnell was a pseudonym for Wilson. The WGA also restored the credit of Alfred Leavitt, a blacklisted writer who was secretly employed to collaborate with Wilson on the screenplay.

Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Jan 1959
---
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1958
p. 4
Film Daily
10 Feb 1959
p. 10
Hollywood Reporter
13 Mar 1958
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 1958
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1958
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 1958
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
11 Mar 1999
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
10 Jan 1959
p. 108
New York Times
3 Mar 1959
p. 38
Variety
26 Nov 1958
p. 6
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Peter Price
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Bill Kirby
Prod
WRITERS
James O'Donnell
Scr
Alfred Levitt
Scr
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
2d unit cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp
Played by
SOUND
Sd ed
Sd
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Cont
SOURCES
SONGS
"Ich Liebe Dich" and "The Only One," music and lyrics by Peter Hart.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Clock Without a Face
Release Date:
March 1959
Premiere Information:
London opening: 17 Nov 1958; New York opening: 2 Mar 1959
Production Date:
26 Mar--23 May 1958 at the Associated British Pictures Corp. Studios, Elstree, England
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Sabre Films, Ltd.
30 December 1958
LP12877
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
93
Length(in feet):
8,363
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18995
SYNOPSIS

In 1939 Berlin, as Europe teeters on the brink of war, German supply officer Alex Schottland wins the respect of Adolf Hitler for his acumen in dealing with supply issues. At a party to celebrate his promotion to general, Schottland encounters Lili Geyr, an Italian singer popular with the German troops, whom he has met several times before. When Lili accuses Schottland of continually avoiding her, he excuses himself from the party and visits Cornaz, the owner of a clock shop. There, Schottland, a British spy who has posed as a German officer for the past twenty-four years in order to relay topsecret information to the British, complains to Cornaz, his contact, that he longs to discard the masquerade that makes him feel like a “clock without a face.” Cornaz commiserates with Schottland, but insists that he return to the party and continue his charade. In the ensuing years, German troops sweep across the European continent. One day, Schottland comes to the shop to tell Cornaz that the Germans have decided to postpone their invasion of England and attack Russia, a decision that delights Cornaz who believes that German aggression will bind Russia to the West. Schottland has recently been appointed deputy chief of supply, and when he suggests using his new position to sabotage German military supplies, Cornaz reminds him that his mission is to obtain information, not sabotage military installations. Capt. Reinisch, Schottland’s envious and suspicious aide, has discovered that Schottland has changed his name from Scotland and is of British paternity. When he reports this information to his superiors, however, they scoff that they are ...

More Less

In 1939 Berlin, as Europe teeters on the brink of war, German supply officer Alex Schottland wins the respect of Adolf Hitler for his acumen in dealing with supply issues. At a party to celebrate his promotion to general, Schottland encounters Lili Geyr, an Italian singer popular with the German troops, whom he has met several times before. When Lili accuses Schottland of continually avoiding her, he excuses himself from the party and visits Cornaz, the owner of a clock shop. There, Schottland, a British spy who has posed as a German officer for the past twenty-four years in order to relay topsecret information to the British, complains to Cornaz, his contact, that he longs to discard the masquerade that makes him feel like a “clock without a face.” Cornaz commiserates with Schottland, but insists that he return to the party and continue his charade. In the ensuing years, German troops sweep across the European continent. One day, Schottland comes to the shop to tell Cornaz that the Germans have decided to postpone their invasion of England and attack Russia, a decision that delights Cornaz who believes that German aggression will bind Russia to the West. Schottland has recently been appointed deputy chief of supply, and when he suggests using his new position to sabotage German military supplies, Cornaz reminds him that his mission is to obtain information, not sabotage military installations. Capt. Reinisch, Schottland’s envious and suspicious aide, has discovered that Schottland has changed his name from Scotland and is of British paternity. When he reports this information to his superiors, however, they scoff that they are aware of Schottland’s dual nationality and point out that Schottland has been a German officer too long to be considered a spy. Schottland’s information has allowed the Allies to steadily destroy German supply depots, causing the Germans to wonder from whom they obtained their intelligence. To deflect suspicion from himself, Schottland suggests that “defeatists” among the German staff have been leaking information to the enemy. One day, Cornaz furtively approaches Schottland to warn him that their courier has been arrested. Cornaz, thinking that he may be next, tells Schottland that if something happens, he will find his new contact by answering a newspaper ad for an antique watch known as the “Nuremberg egg.” The contact will identify himself by offering to sell the time piece for ninety marks. Soon after, Cornaz is arrested and Schottland, a frequent customer at the watchmaker’s shop, is summoned to headquarters for questioning. There Schottland is forced impassively to watch as zealous Gestapo Leader Mueller tortures Cornaz to death. Because Cornaz had top secret information in his possession, Mueller arrests Schottland for treason, but he is soon exonerated and released by Gen. Kaltenbrunner. While studying the personal ads one day, Schottland sees two ads for the Nuremberg egg. When the first seller fails to name the correct price, Schottland proceeds to the second address and is stunned when Lili answers the door. Reinisch, who is in love with Lili, is visiting, and consequently, Schottland leaves after ascertaining that Lili is his new contact. After Reinisch has gone, Schottland returns and tells Lili that he is attracted to her. Insisting that their relationship must remain impersonal, Lili suggests that they pretend to be lovers as a cover for their frequent meetings. Lili decides to relay Schottland’s latest message in a song she is to perform on a radio broadcast. When Lili is unexpectedly replaced by another singer, Schottland, concerned, rushes to her apartment. Once assured that Lili is safe, Schottland, who has been ordered to the front, decides to transmit the message when he reaches the battle line. At the front, as Schottland begins to broadcast his information, a German corporal approaches him. Schottland shoots the corporal and the rest of his patrol when they come to investigate. The corporal survives, however, and before lapsing into a coma, tells his superiors about the German general with the transmitter. Upon returning to Berlin, Schottland informs Lili that he has failed and, now unable to transmit important information, has decided to resort to sabotage. Over the next few months, Schottland cunningly tricks Hitler into making strategic military blunders. After the Germans lose the Battle of the Bulge, Schottland conceives of using Lili’s popularity with the troops as an excuse for her traveling to the Western front. From there, she will be able to sneak across the border and deliver the information to the Allies. Upon reaching the front, Schottland gives Lili a map laying out her escape route and promises to take her to his favorite English country inn once the war ends. That night, as Lili makes her way through the woods, she is stopped by Reinisch, who confiscates the map, then shoots her. Meanwhile, in Berlin, the corporal has regained consciousness and is being questioned by Mueller. Determined to prove that Schottland is a spy, Mueller shows the corporal his photograph, but when the soldier states he is only able to identify the man’s voice, Mueller decides to arrest Schottland as soon as he returns to Berlin. Unaware of Lili’s fate, Schottland goes to his Berlin apartment, accompanied by Reinisch. There Reinisch throws down the map, pulls out his gun and declares that he intends to kill the treasonous Schottland. Realizing that Reinisch killed Lili, Schottland attacks him, and as they wrestle for the gun, the weapon discharges, killing Reinisch. Schottland then goes to see Hitler, and after naming Mueller as one of the “defeatist” generals who oppose the Führer, leaves for the front. Mueller, who has been informed of Reinisch’s death, sends a motorcycle brigade after Schottland. Upon seeing the brigade trailing them in the distance, Schottland orders his driver to turn the car around while he continues on foot. Running into the woods, Schottland is soon captured by Allied soldiers. Once Germany has been defeated, Schottland, now wearing the uniform of the British army, visits the inn where he was to meet Lili.

Less

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.