Cornel Wilde stars in this World War II drama Operation Secret in which most of the film is done in flashback by witnesses at a post war French tribunal. The object of the inquiry is to determine who killed Maquis resistance leader Paul Picerni.
This film was about the only Marine who may have served in the European Theater of World War II. Wilde is quite the colorful character and what a background he has. He does a hitch in the Marine Corps during peacetime and then enlists in the French Foreign Legion where he and fellow Legionaire Karl Malden just simply refuse to surrender until wounded and ordered to by Captain Steve Cochran. After a stint in a Prison Camp he's repatriated back to France whereupon he flees to Great Britain and tries to enlist in the Marines again. The Marines take him, but rather than send him to the Pacific, Wilde is given spy training and sent back to France where he eventually hooks up with the Maquis.
That the Maquis had a lot of Communists in it is a given fact. But remember this was the beginning of the Cold War so some anti-Communism gets worked into the plot. Many members of the Resistance do not want to give plans for the new Nazi jet airplanes to the Americans and British. That sets up the conflict as Wilde has to deal with both Germans and people in the Maquis who want to do him in.
To say the least I found the whole premise quite bizarre. But I've always liked Cornel Wilde on the screen and this is far from the worst film he ever did. In fact his portrayal of a spy who has to think fast on his feet is quite good.
Tstifying at the tribunal are Malden, Cochran, Jay Novello playing a former Gestapo man, and an ersatz nun played by Phyllis Thaxter. Eventually the murder of Picerni is solved and the perpetrator faces French justice.
Why they had to invent such a wild (no pun intended)background for Wilde is beyond me. If they had just made him a Frenchman in the first place it would have made more sense. Not like Wilde never did a French accent effectively on the screen.
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