The Two-Headed Spy

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The Two-Headed Spy
File:Two headed spy.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Andre De Toth
Produced by Bill Kirby
Written by J. Alvin Kugelmass
Michael Wilson (originally credited as "James O'Donnell")
Alfred Levitt (uncredited)
Starring Jack Hawkins
Gia Scala
Erik Schumann
Music by Gerard Schurmann
Cinematography Edward Scaife (as "Ted Scaife")
Edited by Raymond Poulton
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
17 November 1958
Running time
93 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The Two-Headed Spy is a 1958 British spy thriller, set in World War II. It starred Jack Hawkins and was directed by Andre De Toth. It also starred Gia Scala, Erik Schumann and Alexander Knox. The film was based on a story by J. Alvin Kugelmass called Britain's Two-Headed Spy and is notable for having been scripted by blacklisted writers.


The story commences in 1939. Alex Schottland (Jack Hawkins), a general in the German Army, is actually a British agent who was planted in Germany toward the end of the First World War. He is growing weary of being a spy, but is urged to continue by his friend and fellow British agent, Cornaz (Felix Aylmer), who is posing as a watchmaker.

Schottland passes on information that Germany is about to attack Russia. Capt. Reinisch (Erik Schumann), Schottland's suspicious aide, discovers that Schottland has changed his name from Scotland and is of British ancestry. However, his superiors scoff at the possibility that Schottland is a spy. To deflect suspicion, Schottland says that "defeatists" in the high command have been leaking information to the enemy.

Cornaz is arrested after their courier to the British is arrested. Schottland, as a customer at the watchmaker's shop, is summoned to headquarters for questioning. There Schottland is forced to watch impassively as Gestapo officer Müller (Alexander Knox) tortures Cornaz to death in a gruesome scene, in which a fire hose is used to force water into Cornaz's bowels.

Schottland is arrested but soon released because of intervention by a high-ranking Nazi, Ernst Kaltenbrunner. Cornaz's replacement is Lili Geyr (Gia Scala), an attractive pianist. He pretends to be having an affair with Geyr while actually giving her information. That antagonizes Reinisch, who is in love with Geyr. Schottland is ordered to the front, and shoots a corporal who interrupts him broadcasting information to the Allies. Schottland returns to Berlin, and, now unable to transmit important information, has decided to resort to sabotage. He begins to cunningly trick Hitler into making strategic military blunders.

Reinisch kills Geyr as she attempts to escape to the Allies. Schottland kills Reinisch, and subsequently casts suspicion on Müller as a traitor. Schottland is incriminated, and he crosses the lines to be captured by British troops.[1]



Lt. Col. Alexander Scotland OBE served as technical advisor to the film. Although the movie was ostensibly based on a true story, and Scotland was known as "Schottland" during his service with German forces in Africa at the turn of the century, the movie was not based on Scotland's experiences. He served during the war as commandant of "The London Cage," an MI19 facility that interrogated captured Germans.[2][3]

Michael Caine appears in a bit part as a Gestapo officer, and Donald Pleasence plays a German general.

Screenwriters Michael Wilson and Alfred Levitt were not given credit because of the blacklist. The credit instead was given to James O'Donnell. Their credits were restored in 1999.[1] Dalton Trumbo, also blacklisted, was a story consultant.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Two-Headed Spy". Retrieved 7 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Scotland, A.P. (1957). The London Cage. London: Evans Brothers, Ltd.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. West, Nigel ed. (1995) The Guy Liddell Diaries: Mi5's Director of Counter-Espionage in World War II
  4. Peter Hanson, Dalton Trumbo, Hollywood Rebel: A Critical Survey and Filmography, McFarland, 2001. p. 219

External links