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Betrayed by his fellow journalists as well as his superiors, Greg Bachmann (Horst Buchholz) landed in prison, just for doing his job. After just a short sentence, however, he’s released—six months earlier than expected. He soon finds that his release was made possible by world-famous journalist Cesar Boyd (Martin Held), who, fascinated by Bachmann’s drive—and his story—offers Bachmann a high-paying job as his personal assistant. For years, Bachmann meets with famous people and covers the most newsworthy events, while his mentor takes the credit.

One Friday, Boyd’s friend’s beautiful young daughter, Bettina (Maria Perschy), arrives in Berlin to stay with Boyd while she attends the university. Amidst the excitement of her arrival, Bachmann and Boyd forget an important deadline. They need a truly sensational story for the weekend paper in Paris—and they need it in less than three hours. Under the pressure, Boyd (with the help of his chauffer) fabricates an amazing story about a group of German soldiers who had been trapped underground in a bunker in Poland for six years since World War II. Of the soldiers, only one survived—a blind man, who had been taken to a Polish hospital for examination.

  
 
Astonished by the story, newspapers around the world pick it up. Bachmann and Bettina, who aren’t aware of Boyd’s fabrication, get caught up in the story—and Bachmann, the naïve assistant, urges Boyd to provide more fabricated follow-up stories. Meanwhile, as word of the blind soldier spreads, it creates frenzy among journalists and Germans alike. Journalists scramble to get the next big headline—at any cost—and Germans rally for information about the soldier, many convinced that the man is a long-lost relative. Bachmann finally gets his big journalistic break, writing a heartfelt plea to the people of Poland, begging them to release the soldier—only to discover, to his horror, that it was all just a hoax.

Generally classified as a thriller, this 1958 German noir film isn’t a thriller in the modern, fast-paced, nightmare-inducing sense. Instead, it’s a thriller in that dark, deliberate, suspenseful, Alfred-Hitchcock-like sense. While some viewers (those who prefer subtitles to dubbing) may find the dubbing a bit distracting at first, the captivating story more than makes up for it. Boyd and Bachmann are intriguing characters, and their story will make you think twice before believing everything you read.

You don’t have to be a noir fan to enjoy this long-lost film. It’s a worthy addition to any DVD collection—because it’s one of those movies that you’ll want to watch more than once, just to pick up on all of its subtleties.

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