I’m a fan of the American actor William Holden, and last night I caught up with a 1962 film of his that I never saw before. The Counterfeit Traitor is the story of a American-born Swedish businessman (Holden) who becomes a spy for the Allies during World War 2, gathering information since as a neutral Swede he can travel back and forth to wartime Germany. It’s quite tense and exciting, and thoughtful about the nature of human responsibility as well.
But for the purposes of this blog, what stood out in the film for me was a scene where Holden was walking through the streets of Hamburg seeking his contact to help him get away from Germany and the Gestapo. It turns out that this contact is a dominatrix who sits in an open window advertising her stern services, played by the German actress Ingrid van Bergen. She doesn’t whip him, though, in the brief interlude, but just helps him on his escape route. Still, she looks like quite an effective whip mistress, complete with BDSM art on the walls of her little room.
I wonder what I would have made of the sequence had I viewed it in 1962, when I was ten years old. After all, it was a respectable mainstream film and I might have been able to get in to see it.
I’m sure more than one kinky and knowing audience member had a fantasy or two about Ingrid in this scene!
Still, I doubt in 1962 I would have known what the lady’s bizarre clothing, gloves, boots, and riding crop meant, although I might have concluded that she was some kind of “bad” woman–and perhaps all bad women wore stiletto boots and carried crops. (Maybe on some unconscious level I do believe this today!)
In any case, I’m glad I didn’t see the movie until now, because with my greater knowledge about World War 2 from reading, as well as my endless fascination with femdom, I definitely appreciated it much more in 2014 than I would have fifty-two years ago!
And here’s one more shot of Ingrid van Bergen. Dig that 1960s glamour!
I found the Italian poster for The Counterfeit Traitor here. I found the black-and-white portrait of Ingrid Van Bergen here and the color glamour shot here. The scene still from The Counterfeit Traitor is from here.