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Suspense - Betrayal in Vienna

episode 4.21

USA 1952
produced by
Robert Stevens for CBS
directed by Robert Stevens
starring Claude Dauphin, Robert H.Harris, Irja Jensen, Ernest Graves, Herbert Ratner
story by Dana Lee Thomas, screenplay by Halsted Welles, music by Hank Sylvern

TV-series
Suspense, Oberst Redl

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Vienna, Austria-Hungary, 1913: Colonel Redl (Claude Dauphin) heads the Austrian-Hungarian secret service, and successfully, too, because he trusts noone, and he tells his employees to do the same. But of course, especially men as flawless as Colonel Redl have their weaknesses, and it doesn't take Russian spy Ramovsky (Robert H.Harris) long to pick one: Redl is addicted to opium. Sure he does everything in his power to hide it, but to the trained eye of a spy, this is as obvious as ... well, something really obvious.

Ramovsky threatens to expose Redl, but offers a deal: He wants to know the names of the two Austrian-Hungarian head spies in Russia, and he will keep silent. Of course, Redl refuses, and Ramovsky is quick to offer a different deal. Now he just wants the tiny military secret every now and again, and Redl remains unexposed. Still, the tiny military secrets mount up, and eventually it becomes obvious that there's a mole in the secret service. Now this is where Ramovsky can help out: There is indeed another mole in the secret service ... so why not let him take all the blame. It works, but not as well as planned, and for any more help, Ramovsky demands the names of the top spies in Russia. Redl finds himself cornered and gives them away ... too late, his betrayal has come out. Redl flees, but his escape is intercepted by his own aide (Ernest Graves), who has long suspected him, and now shoots him but makes it look like suicide.

Austria-Hungary and Germany might have lost World War I (1914 - 1918) due to Redl's betrayal in Vienna ...

 

On a story level, Betrayal in Vienna is pretty entertaining, and even if the twist ending is a bit forseeable, it essentially works. However, the whole thing is seriously hampered by its inherent lack of budget, which never allows the historical backdrops of the story to come to life. And the very stagey, dry direction doesn't breath much life into the thing, either. Sure, this was about standard in 1950's television, but then maybe a story about the dawn of the first world war isn't such a great idea to film to begin with. But I guess I'm making this episode worse than it is, it's ok early television I guess, just don't expect anything much beyond some rather ok writing ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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