Tonight’s offering is a good old fashioned, in the best sense of the word, World War II spy thriller, based in this case on a true story and very murky story. This film, Five Fingers, was made in the 1950s and is about the life of Elyesa Bazna, (named Ulysses Diello in this film) an Albanian who became a British citizen and spied for the Germans*
Deillo, played by James Mason, is a suave, sophisticated valet to the British Ambassador in what was then neutral Turkey. Being a neutral nation there were Embassies of both Allied and Axis belligerents, which made the place a hotbed of spying.
The Deillo character in the film steals secrets from the safe of the British Embassy and passes them onto a handler at the German Embassy. The Germans are at first suspicious of Deillo but they became increasingly convinced that Deillo was merely a fortune hunter and not a British double agent.
When certain information that Deillo passed to the Germans is found to be accurate this encouraged the Germans to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to him for secret information. This film tells of the spying and the attempts by the Allies to find and plug the leak.
This is an excellent relatively fast paced drama that I was unaware of until recently. I must say that this is a film that I’m very glad to have discovered and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.
*What the film doesn’t make clear, because it wasn’t declassified until the 1970’s was that the real person known to the Germans as Cicero was a British double agent, part of the ‘Double Cross’ policy where false information was fed to the Germans. Cicero was also used to hide the fact that British technicians and computer scientists had cracked many of the German encryption codes.