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Thursday, June 19, 2008

THE COUNTERFEIT TRAITOR (1962)


Solid WWII spy drama stars William Holden as a compromised Swedish-based American businessman who is blackmailed into working undercover for the Allies. The deeper he gets in, the more he begins to care about his mission, especially when he falls in love with his main contact in Germany, Lilli Palmer. (Holden looks as worn as Palmer looks radiant, and they use the difference for honest dramatic effects.) The talkative script from megger George Seaton tends to spell everything out for us (in his long career he rarely let his visuals run the dramatic action), but he’s at his best here. In addition, Seaton gets a lot of help from an exceptional production design and, especially, the sophisticated lensing from Jean Bourgoin, just off Jacques Tati’s MON ONCLE. The last act, with Holden exposed & on the run, has suspense, pace & momentum. And from George Seaton!

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