38 user 4 critic

The Counterfeit Traitor (1962)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller, War | 2 July 1962 (Sweden)
Blacklisted in modern day WW2, a Swedish oil trader opts to assist British Allies, by means of infiltrating and surveying Nazi Germany.


George Seaton


Alexander Klein (based on the book by), George Seaton (written for the screen by)


Learn more

More Like This 

36 Hours (1964)
Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Germans kidnap an American major and try to convince him that World War II is over, so that they can get details about the Allied invasion of Europe out of him.

Director: George Seaton
Stars: James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Taylor
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

At the dawn of supersonic flight in the 1950s a group of Edwards Air Force Base experimental aircraft test pilots push themselves to the limit.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: William Holden, Lloyd Nolan, Virginia Leith
Alvarez Kelly (1966)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

During the Civil War, Mexican cattleman Alvarez Kelly supplies the Union with cattle until Confederate Colonel Tom Rossiter's hungry men force Kelly to change his customers.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: William Holden, Richard Widmark, Janice Rule
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A retired professor rents his attic apartment to pregnant Peggy and her GI-Bill-student husband. The professor ponders if his life is no longer useful while the young couple faces the challenges shared with many WW II veterans' families.

Director: George Seaton
Stars: Jeanne Crain, William Holden, Edmund Gwenn
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A businessman moves to Hong Kong to pursue a career as an artist and falls in love with a prostitute he hires as a model.

Director: Richard Quine
Stars: William Holden, Nancy Kwan, Sylvia Syms
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

In the Pacific during WWII, a Roman Catholic widow falls for a tough lieutenant colonel.

Director: George Seaton
Stars: William Holden, Deborah Kerr, Thelma Ritter
The Revengers (1972)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

When a rancher's family is massacred by a gang of outlaws, he assembles a mean team of convicts as his posse to pursue the killers.

Director: Daniel Mann
Stars: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Woody Strode
Ashanti (1979)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

Dr. Anansa Linderby (Beverly Johnson) is kidnapped in a medical mission in Africa by a slave trader. From this moment, her husband will do anything to recover her and to punish the bad guys, but that will be not an easy task.

Director: Richard Fleischer
Stars: Michael Caine, Peter Ustinov, Kabir Bedi
Action | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A US Army Colonel is tasked with forming an elite commando-style unit from crack Canadian troops and the dregs of the US Army.

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
Stars: William Holden, Cliff Robertson, Vince Edwards
Biography | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A widowed doctor of both Chinese and European descent falls in love with a married American correspondent in Hong Kong during China's Communist revolution.

Directors: Henry King, Otto Lang
Stars: William Holden, Jennifer Jones, Torin Thatcher
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

When Nazi anti-aircraft fire damages a British bomber, its crew bails out and seeks help from the Dutch underground.

Directors: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Stars: Godfrey Tearle, Eric Portman, Hugh Williams
Drama | History | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

During the Chinese Civil War of 1949, the Communists constantly harass the two priests of a remote Catholic mission outpost.

Directors: Leo McCarey, David W. Orton
Stars: William Holden, Clifton Webb, France Nuyen


Cast overview, first billed only:
William Holden ... Eric Erickson
Lilli Palmer ... Frau Marianne Möllendorf
Hugh Griffith ... Collins
Carl Raddatz ... Otto Holtz
Ernst Schröder Ernst Schröder ... Baron Gerhard von Oldenburg
Charles Regnier Charles Regnier ... Wilhelm Kortner
Ingrid van Bergen ... Hulda Windler
Wolfgang Preiss ... Col. Nordoff
Werner Peters ... Bruno Ulrich
Erica Beer ... Klara Holtz
Stefan Schnabel ... Gestapo Agent at Funeral
Klaus Kinski ... Kindler
Erik Schumann ... Nazi Gunboat Officer (as Erik Schuman)
Poul Reichhardt ... Fishing Boat Skipper
John Wittig John Wittig ... Sven


An American oil company executive of Swedish descent, now living in Sweden, is blackmailed into spying for the Allies during World War II. At first resentful, his relationship with a beautiful German Allied agent causes him to realize how vital his work is. When he learns that his anti-Nazi German associates are under suspicion from the Gestapo, he risks his own life to go back inside Nazi Germany to finish his work and try to save his friends. It's an exciting story with great characters, filmed partly in the locations where the story took place. Written by Carol

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


You Have Never Seen More Magnificent Adventure! See more »


Drama | Thriller | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »





English | Danish | German

Release Date:

2 July 1962 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Espía por mandato See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono | Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The German spy for the OSS, Frau Marianne Möllendorf in the movie, was a real person whom Erickson fell in love with. Her real name was Anne-Maria Freudenreich. The Swedish national archives in Stockholm have photographs and letters Erickson received from her. See more »


When Erickson goes to the "red light" district in Hamburg to make his contact with the underground, the street is ablaze with light from the windows and street lamps, something that would never have been seen in wartime, when blackout precautions were rigidly imposed - particularly in a city like Hamburg, which was a routine and consistent target of Allied bombers. See more »


Eric Erickson: I'm curious. Ever since I met you, I've wondered what they have on you. The Allies, I mean. They've told me if I don't work for them, I lose my business.
Marianne Möllendorf: Oh, I see. Yes, I have something to lose too. If I don't help them I lose my self-respect. Well, haven't *you* ever opposed anything for the simple reason that it's wrong? Morally wrong?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening card: We wish to express our gratitude to the city governments of Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg, and West Berlin whose co-operation made it possible to photograph the authentic locales in the re-creation of this true story. It begins in Stockholm, 1942... See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Without Make-Up (1963) See more »


Music by Alfred Newman
Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

Fascinating and suspenseful spy-thriller based on true events
16 February 2011 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Alexander Klein wrote a 1958 book about Erickson's World War II exploits, The Counterfeit Traitor, which was made into 1962 this movie of the same name .True life espionage story about a businessman (an effective William Holden ) who lives a mission as double agent for the Allies during WWII. It begins in Stockholm 1942 . He made scores of trips to Germany between 1941 and 1944 , the hazards were great. He gathered priceless information on Germany's oil refineries, which he turned over to his Allied contacts . Gestapo agents tracked him on his visits to Germany. Though Erickson knew that he was under constant surveillance, he went about his oil business as well as the business of spying. One of his closest confederates was a woman (a haunting Lilli Palmer). Gestapo agents suddenly rushed in and arrested them both. Both were confined at Gestapo headquarters .

This is a suspense thriller full of tension , agonisingly intriguing and entertainment. Frequently riveting but overlong , it results to be a magnificent film. There are tremendous acting from the main protagonists as Holden and Palmer . Furthermore , splendid support cast from Germany as Klaus Kinski , Wolfgang Preiss, Werner Peters ,Schuman ; from Denmark as Reichhardt and from Sweden as Palme. Sensible and stirring musical score by the classic Alfred Newman . Colorful cinematography by the French Jean Bourgoin .The producers wish to express their gratitude to the city government of Stockholm , Copenhagen , Hamburg and West Berlin whose cooperation made it possible to photograph the authentic locales in the re-creation of this true story. The motion picture is stunningly directed by George Seaton. Professional and polish writer and director who occasionally rose well above his average standard and was twice rewarded with Academy Award for so making . Seaton formed a partnership with William Perlberg , was to produce all Seaton's movies for several years. Both of them produced and directed the following successes as ¨Miracle on 34th Street¨, ¨The country girl¨, a monster Box office as ¨Airport¨ , another unusual War film as ¨36 hours¨ and of course ¨Counterfeit traitor¨.

Based on true events , Erickson spied on German synthetic oil plants for the American OSS in World War II. At the outbreak of World War II, Erickson offered his services to the United States. Pretending that he was a Nazi, Erickson visited Germany more than 30 times between 1939 and 1945.Working with a few German industrialists and businessmen who were part of the conspiracy. He and his women accomplice were arrested. The woman, however, had been under suspicion as being a spy. The Germans concluded that Erickson was simply a businessman seeking sexual gratification but the woman was a spy. The Allies stepped up their bombing of Germany and Nazi-occupied countries in 1943, but had difficulty in locating the oil refineries that kept Hitler's war machine moving. Erickson was told by his OSS spymasters that he had to locate the key refineries. Erickson and his wealthy German business friends, he said, planned to build a huge oil refinery in neutral Sweden, safe from Allied bombers. This plant, when running at peak capacity, could deliver all the oil Germany might need. If he went ahead with his plans, he explained, he would want an exclusive contract with the Germans. Erickson then pointed out that he had few friends in Sweden because of his long association and loyalty to Nazi Germany. He also pointed out to the Gestapo chief that his name was on the Allied blacklist, a fact that Himmler already knew and one that endeared Erickson to his cold heart. As they talked, Himmler came quickly to believe that Erickson was an opportunist who had thrown in his lot with the Germans after they had scored lightning success through blitzkrieg invasions. He was also impressed in the detailed blueprints for the proposed Swedish oil refinery that Erickson had taken pains to prepare and submit for examination. Erickson then explained that, before he and his partners put up their millions to build the plant, he would have to inspect present oil refineries and receive from experts and technicians in the field, all important information on operations in order to better build a highly productive refinery. Himmler authorized Erickson to travel anywhere in the Reich or occupied territories, to investigate any oil refinery operation he wanted to see, and to get from experts any information he desired in preparation of building the proposed refinery in Sweden. He was also given an order signed by Hitler that provided automobiles for Erickson . Erickson was shocked to run into a man he thought long dead, a German oil executive he had formerly known . He told the Nazi that it was simply good business to have joined the Germans, and that he was a businessman first and always. He told the man that he had been on the Allied blacklist for years after establishing friendships with German Nazis. He then played his trump card, showing him his newly-signed Gestapo papers, which bore the name of Heinrich Himmler .This seemed to convince the Nazi that Erickson, was, indeed, to be trusted.In the months to follow, the intrepid spy toured almost every major oil refinery in Germany and the occupied countries. He obtained detailed plans of oil operations and these quickly wound up in the hands of the OSS, MI6, and, subsequently, the Allied air forces, which then bombed the refineries out of existence. Lack of oil caused the surrender of more than 300,000 German troops in the Ruhr Valley, the last real threat in the West against the Allies. Following the war, General Dwight D. Eisenhower attributed the Allied victory to the destruction of the German oil industry and almost all of the credit for that destruction was due to one man, Eric Erickson.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 38 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Popular Action and Adventure Titles With Prime Video

Explore popular action and adventure titles available to stream with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed