Directed by: Karl Malden
Starring: Richard Widmark, Richard Basehart, Dolores Michaels
During the opening credits of this movie, I was like, “all right, Richard Basehart AND Martin Balsam!” and then I realized that I was now officially an old man. Still, both of those guys were great in this film, so my elderly knowledge of actors did not disappoint.
After a group of POWs rescued from a camp in North Korea return to the States, the base’s colonel is tasked with figuring out why the major of that group defected to the communists, even going so far as to broadcast lies about the US using germ warfare over the radio. When the major doesn’t defend himself at all, the colonel sense’s something fishy is afoot, and looks into it despite the fact that nobody wants him to help out.
It’s a pretty classic sort of mystery story that also delves into the harshness of being a prisoner of war, and the kinds of things that can make men lose their will or change. I actually thought it was brilliant. Basehart turns in a stirring performance as the major, and Widmark is perfect as the colonel who never gives up his search for the truth. There are some really well-crafted tense moments, and at the end it leaves you thinking about who’s really at fault for anything that happened. In my book, that’s the sign of a good movie.