5 Fingers

5 Fingers, known also as Five Fingers, is a 1952 American spy film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and produced by Otto Lang. The screenplay by Michael Wilson was based on the book Operation Cicero (Original German: Der Fall Cicero) (1950) by Ludwig Carl Moyzisch, Nazi commercial attaché at the German Embassy in Ankara (1943-44).[2] In the film, James Mason plays Ulysses Diello (Cicero), the character based on Elyesa Bazna. The rest of the cast includes Danielle Darrieux, Michael Rennie, Herbert Berghof and Walter Hampden.

5 Fingers
Directed byJoseph L. Mankiewicz
Produced byOtto Lang
Screenplay byMichael Wilson
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Based onDer fall Cicero
1949 novel
by Ludwig Carl Moyzisch
StarringJames Mason
Danielle Darrieux
Michael Rennie
Music byBernard Herrmann
CinematographyNorbert Brodine
Edited byJames B. Clark
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • February 22, 1952 (1952-02-22)
Running time
108 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,350,000 (US rentals)[1]

The film is based on the true story of Albanian-born Elyesa Bazna, one of the most famous spies of World War II. He worked for the Nazis in 1943–44 while he was employed as valet to the British ambassador to Turkey, Sir Hughe Montgomery Knatchbull-Hugessen. He used the code name Cicero. He would photograph top-secret documents and turn the films over to Franz von Papen, the former German chancellor, at that time German ambassador in Ankara, via the intermediary Moyzisch.


In neutral Turkey in 1944, German ambassador Franz von Papen and his British counterpart Sir Frederic Taylor attend a reception. Von Papen encounters Countess Anna Staviska, who is a Frenchwoman and the widow of a pro-German Polish count. Now destitute, the countess volunteers to become a spy for a fee, but she is turned down.

A man approaches a German embassy attaché, Moyzisch, offering to provide von Papen with top-secret British documents for a price: 20,000 British pounds. What is not yet known by the Germans is that the man, Diello, is the personal valet to Sir Frederic as well as the former valet of the late count.

The documents taken from Sir Frederic's safe and photographed prove genuine. Diello is given the code name "Cicero" and asked to continue his subterfuge. Diello gives his money to Anna for safekeeping and pays her a portion of it, provided he be allowed to use her new villa as a meeting place for his transactions. When the valet also tells Anna his dream of living in South America together, she slaps his face. But she agrees to his conditions.

Moyzisch is summoned to Berlin by military officers suspicious of Cicero's true intent. Allied bombing of a Romanian oil refinery is carried out, exactly as Cicero's photographed documents had outlined. Colonel Von Richter is sent to Ankara to take over the negotiations with Cicero, while the British send a counter-intelligence man, Colin Travers, to identify the spy.

Anna's newfound wealth and previous willingness to become a spy cause her to fall under suspicion from Travers, who also rigs the ambassador's safe with a burglar alarm. Von Richter requests a document detailing an Allied operation called "Overlord." It is the D-Day invasion plan and Cicero wants 40,000 pounds for it.

Diello realizes that he could soon be killed by one side or captured by the other. He decides to leave for South America, only to discover that Anna has stolen all of his money and departed to Switzerland instead. A letter arrives from her to Sir Frederic that identifies his valet as the spy being paid by the Germans. Diello breaks into the safe and photographs the D-Day plans, and intercepts the letter, but when returning the plans to the safe, he sets off the alarm and must flee.

He now knows for certain how Anna feels toward him. Broke and on the run, Diello demands a 100,000-pound payment from the Germans for the photographs of the D-Day plans. He receives it, then manages to avoid getting killed or captured. A second malicious letter from Anna to the Germans misinforms them that the valet is a British spy, whereupon they dispose of the D-Day information as unreliable.

Diello escapes alone to Rio, where he is shown enjoying a new life of prosperity and freedom. Or at least he is until Brazilian authorities arrive to take him into custody because all his money is counterfeit, from Operation Bernhard. Anna's money in Switzerland, he finds out, is fake as well, which offers him consolation in his new, dark circumstances.



The film was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Director for Mankiewicz and Best Screenplay for Wilson. Mankiewicz was also nominated for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures by the Directors Guild of America and Wilson was nominated for Best Written American Drama by the Writers Guild of America. He won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Screenplay.

Television adaptation

Five Fingers was adapted into a 1959-1960 16-episode TV series, starring David Hedison and Luciana Paluzzi.


  1. 'Top Box-Office Hits of 1952', Variety, January 7, 1953
  2. Heatts, Dorothy J. "Footnote to Cicero". CIA.gov. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  • Bazna published his own account of the events in his book, I Was Cicero, in 1962 (Bazna, Elyesa, with Hans Nogly. I Was Cicero. New York: Harper & Row, 1962)
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