Cloak and Dagger

Inciting Event: Alvah the scientist agrees to help the OSS contact German defector Dr. Katerin Loder. He arrives in Switzerland on his secret mission. This is actually an example of an Inciting Event/Call to Adventure that the protagonist does not start out by rejecting. Alvah does voice some concerns initially, but really he jumps into his new role as a spy head-on. Although the story still moves surely forward, we can see here how this willing attitude from the protagonist robs the Inciting Event of all irony, making it a little too on-the-nose.

First Plot Point: After Alvah is detected and followed, Dr. Loder is kidnapped by the Nazis. Because Alvah both personally respects Dr. Loder and because he feels responsible for what’s happened to her, he now plunges head on into the world of a spy.

Honestly, this entire movie is extremely disjointed, so it’s a little hard to analyze the plot points as all being part of a whole. This isn’t a bad First Plot Point, in that it rocks the protagonist’s world. But it also doesn’t provide a lot of distinction between the Normal World of him as a newbie spy and the one that follows. His true Normal World was that of a scientist working on the Manhattan Project, which he left behind not at the First Plot Point, but at the Inciting Event.

First Pinch Point: When Alvah and his team members attempt to rescue Dr. Loder, she is murdered. This both emphasizes the stakes and provides the necessary turning point (in this instance, it’s finally the turning point that swings Alvah into the main storyline). Since Italian scientist Dr. Polda may also be sympathetic to the Allies, Alvah now has to pursue him instead.

Midpoint: Alvah poses as a German scientist and meets with Dr. Polda. Although Dr. Polda resists at first, he eventually agrees to defect if Alvah will first secure the safety of his daughter Maria. Alvah agrees, and his new team—which includes cynical Italian underground courier Gina—figure out a plan. Unfortunately, the plan leaves Alvah in an extremely passive role. He and Gina wait out the week, while the rest of the team goes to save Maria off-screen. Granted, this is the best part of the movie, thanks to Gina’s luminous role. But Alvah’s romance with her is hardly plot-moving.

Second Pinch Point: The janitor discovers Alvah’s presence, and Gina decides they must leave her safe house. Although this definitely emphasizes the stakes, it doesn’t do much to turn the plot—mostly because Alvah is completely uninvolved in the conflict at this point.

Third Plot Point: Gina realizes the Gestapo has discovered their second safe house. They flee and spend the night under a bridge. Again, this isn’t a particularly strong Third Plot Point, although Gina and her despair over her role in the war (she’s seen “too much death”) provides the audience the needed emotional low.

Climax: After rescuing Polda and joining back up with the rest of the team, Alvah and Gina discover that the woman who has been saved isn’t Maria—but a Nazi impersonator who has led them into a trap. While the rest of the team sacrifices themselves, Alvah, Polda, and Gina escape.

Climactic Moment: They reach the plane that has come to rescue them.

Resolution: Gina decides she must stay and continue to help with the resistance. Alvah promises to come back for her after the war.

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