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Friday, April 30, 2010

Operation Secret (1952)

This WWII espionage thriller, directed by Lewis Seiler (GUADACANAL DIARY), has an intriguing premise. The film begins with a tribunal investigating the murder of a French resistance fighter (Paul Picerni) by an American soldier (Cornel Wilde) several years after WWII. The soldier has long since disappeared and presumed dead so the tribunal attempts to reconstruct the events leading up to the murder using several witnesses who were participants in the affair (Steve Cochran, Karl Malden, Phyllis Thaxter, Jay Novello and Lester Matthews) by the use of flashbacks until the truth is revealed. There’s a lot of unnecessary padding in what should have been a leaner film that releases the tension a thriller should possess. There’s also the air of “Red” paranoia so prevalent in American films of the 1950s that dates it. Curiously some of the actors playing French, like Karl Malden, attempt a French accent while others, notably Steve Cochran don’t even bother.

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