Cooper Goes Atomic
"Cloak and Dagger" is a curious movie because it was one of the first movies to mention the OSS and what they did during the 2nd World War yet it almost feels routine, take out the fact it actually includes the name OSS and it is no different to any other movie. As such we have this storyline which sees Gary Cooper starring as an American scientist becoming a spy in order to get information on the Atomic bomb building activities of the Germans. It leads him to becoming close to an Italian Partisan as they try and help a Hungarian scientist escape from the Germans to the freedom of America. It is quite ordinary on the surface and whilst it tries to get across an element of the sacrifices people made during the war it never fully captures the depth of the situation.
Now the storyline to "Cloak And Dagger" is simple as American Intelligence learn that Germany are getting close to building an atomic bomb so they approach nuclear scientist Alvah Jesper (Gary Cooper - Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) to become a spy and go to Europe to try and discover how close they are to achieving this. This expectedly leads him into danger as he is followed and when one scientist being forced to work for the Germans is killed it takes him to Italy where he cuts a deal with another scientist to rescue his daughter in return for the scientist going to America with him. That is it and whilst we get nice embellishments as we see early on a French resistance post on the border being taken down by the Germans it is simple to follow.
And typically this dangerous mission which takes Jesper into Switzerland and Italy where he travels under an alias leads to a few close calls. There are a couple of fights, Jesper even has to kill someone before we get the big action finale where we wonder if Jesper will complete his mission and get out alive or not.
But the irony of "Cloak And Dagger" is that this spy story which dominates the first half morphs into a romance during the second as Jesper becomes romantically involved with Italian partisan Gina (Lilli Palmer). And as such this is where the movies depth should be because Gina is a woman who having lost people in the past shields herself, she also hates herself because often she has to flaunt herself over the enemy and then we have the question as to whether she will leave with Jesper or stay because it is her duty. All the elements are there to deliver this interesting look at the emotional and physical sacrifices that were made but it never really achieves the depth it needs, just skimming the surface with the actual romance taking centre stage.
Now as a fan of Gary Cooper it pains me to say this but he looks so uncomfortable as Alvah Jesper and fails to convince at all when it comes to his character. Not once does he sound like a man who works as a nuclear physicist and neither does he get the emotion of the romance across. In fact Cooper only really looks comfortable when it comes to the action and a couple of fights end up being the movies highlights. Lilli Palmer does a little better as Gina as whilst she delivers far too many forced facial expressions she just deliver the emotional heart break of her situation when it comes to whether she stays or goes.
What this all boils down to is that "Cloak And Dagger" is what it is and that ends up a run of the mill war time spy movie which morphs into a romance. It's not brilliant and it has various flaws but unlike some of these movies it is still watch able.