A phone shrills, two bursts of three rings; the man on the bed (Milland) leaves his room; out in the night a waiting man (Gabel) lights a cigarette, throws down the empty packet, and vanishes. Milland picks up the packet, reads the message in his room, resignedly gets out a micro-camera; a shot of an award for his services to nuclear physics; and Rouse's movie is embarked on its challenge to tell the story of a spy without dialogue. There's an element of gimmickry here (even passers-by never say a word), but it's far outweighed by the tangible sense of a man isolated by his sense of fear (you never learn his motives), by the anonymity of his associates (all contact is by prearranged signal and at second remove), by the caution which edges into paranoia as things suddenly go wrong. Rouse's dispassionate, evenly-paced direction, abetted by Sam Leavitt's superb noir camerawork, strands Milland in a shadowy world of fellow-humans, any one of whom might spell disaster. The moment at the end, as Milland waits despairingly for word of his escape, and the teasingly sexy girl across the hall (Gam) closes her door in his face as she realises he is watching her, is one Bresson might have been proud of.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Clarence Greene, Russell Rouse|