THE PLOT THUS FAR
A Korean veteran cooperating with a Senate committee uncovers subversives.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Dana Andrews was taken prisoner during the Korean War and finally arrives home after being away for many years. But now he has periodic dizzy spells as a result of his brutal captivity. When he goes to Washington to meet his old business partner at a public relations office, he learns that his partner is dead and the business was sold out from under him to a guy that is obviously a jerk. After storming out of the office, Andrews meets with an old friend, a Senator, and learns that his old firm is doing a lot to distort truth and influence opinion–as they are a probable front group.
The premise (that some distinct group may control a substantial part of the information we Americans receive every day) is both disturbing and plausible. We do our best to make sure that no single source can exert too much power over information, but we can never be sure just how much of the data we believe to be factual, is actually cooked up by people with an agenda. Exposing one conspiracy (as seen in The Fearmakers) does not stamp out all such conspiracies at once, and the film offers no hint of assurance that the public will be any wiser, the next time information is manipulated. One may extrapolate that there is a terrible danger in trusting ANY source of information, but no solution is suggested.
A minor disappointment comes from another important topic that is introduced at the beginning and then thrown away: Eaton’s brainwashing. He has apparently been subjected to gruelling torture and mind control in the recent past, but it has no effect at all on his behavior except to make him grumpy and subject to sudden headaches. Basically, this is used as a plot device which allows the bad guys to get the upper hand at times, but nothing in the story really turns on it. Perhaps after seeing The Manchurian Candidate, one’s expectations are set too high; certainly one can’t fault the scriptwriters, as the novel had not yet been published.