Cloak and Dagger

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(1946) ★★★★

Fritz Lang was the giant of German expressionist cinema who inspired a young English graphic designer to choose film as his new career. His name was Alfred Hitchcock. With the masterful Dr Mabuse, Metropolis and M under his belt, Lang was offered the chance to run the German Cinema Institute by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. It was 1933. Austrian-born Lang was no fan of the Third Reich. He scarpered to the United States. Once WWII was underway, Lang resisted no opportunity to make anti-Nazi movies: the Hitler-baiting Man Hunt (1941) and Hangmen Also Die! (1943) were followed by the espionage pictures Ministry of Fear (1944), from Graham Greene’s story, and Cloak and Dagger, in which American physicist Gary Cooper is asked by the OSS to discover how close the Germans are to devising an atomic bomb. Hitchcock might have made slightly more of the suspense, but this is an emotional and gripping adventure. Warner Bros placed up front a big ‘Introducing’ credit for Lilli Palmer even though she’d been making films in Europe for a decade, including Hitchcock’s Secret Agent (1936). Cooper signed on for Lang’s movie after belatedly realising he’d made a mistake in turning down the lead in Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (1940). It worked both ways: Hitchcock borrowed a key scene from Cloak and Dagger when he came to make Torn Curtain some 20 years later.

Certificate: PG