The Office of Strategic Services was formed when Franklin Roosevelt decided once and for all we needed a separate intelligence organization if in fact we were going into World War II. And in the postwar era we needed one to compete with both friends and enemies who had been at this for centuries more than we had.
During the war the cloak of secrecy was firmly wrapped around the OSS, but after VJ Day a whole bunch of films came out about some of their behind the lines spy missions. The best of these films were Cloak and Dagger, 13 Rue Madeleine and OSS.
This film follows the training and then the missions in occupied France of a team of OSS operatives, code-named Applejack and their controller. The controller is Patric Knowles and the operatives are Alan Ladd, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Don Beddoe, and Richard Benedict.
It's a tough dirty job with a chance of survival not real great, but this team does its job. Geraldine Fitzgerald engages in a little Mata Hari activity with a German colonel played by John Hoyt and proves quite the temptress.
Actor Joseph Crehan plays William J. Donovan briefly in the beginning of the film. Donovan, a Republican, was named by President Roosevelt to organize and head the new agency. He had a colorful career both in peace and war and was previously played by George Brent in Warner Brothers, Fighting 69th. He's worthy of a biographical film himself and I wonder why none has ever been done before.
Alan Ladd is his stalwart best. Heroics he does, but they are believable heroics. One of his best films from his Paramount era period.
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