The situation is that of a military commander in an enemy prisoner-of-war camp. His soldiers kill a stool pigeon, total reprisals are threatened, he gives in and propagandizes for their captors.
Much of this is flashback to a U.S. Army investigation of such an incident during the Korean War. An excellent film, well-directed and superbly acted, as was noted in reviews.
The title refers to brainwashing and its far extreme of insupportability. The putative dramatic conflict is with the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is unanswerable. The question is raised, that is all.
Malden approaches this with a credit sequence ending at Headquarters, Governor’s Island, New York. His early scenes test the actors (Richard Widmark, Rip Torn, Martin Balsam, Richard Basehart, and so on) in proscenium shots, gradually he moves in for a complete presentation of the drama, effectively translating the play to the screen according to Henry Denker’s transcription.