Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Starring: James Mason, Danielle Darrieux, Michael Rennie, Walter Hampden
Ulysses' relationship with the Countess forms the only real context in which we can view him as anything other than selfish and single-minded. The nature of their tryst feels more business-orientated than romantic, but their shared capitalist mentality allows them to connect in a way they otherwise wouldn't have. It's a relationship that works because of the pair's clinical approach, and one that reveals Ulysses' complex for measuring his own success against others'. One almost feels he has come from an impoverished background and worked his way up to diplomacy (a la Joe Lampton in Room at the Top) as his thirst for competitiveness and a sense of victory seem to precede his own self-preservation. The film's final scene affords Mason the opportunity to demonstrate this, which he does with such wildly committed affectation.
"5 Fingers" appears to be both lamenting and critiquing the increasing hybridity of nationalism, an undoubted inflection of the American moment. Despite a laboured start it's difficult to imagine the film without either the deft touch of Mankiewicz or the delicious character work of Mason. Its sensibilities creep up on you like a concerto; watching someone lie, steal, and cheat has never been quite this much of a resonant, finally fleeting disgrace.
Best Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Best Writing, Screenplay: Michael Wilson