Tuesday, April 01, 2014


In Finland, a German pilot makes contact with a British spy, passing him a roll of film which contains information that would confirm or deny the existence of secret Russian nuclear weapons, but the spy is killed on the road and the roll of film falls on the ground, unnoticed by anyone. Back in England, spymaster Ralph Richardson has recruited a hunky young Polish sailor (Christopher Jones, pictured) who has defected to the West to see the girl (Susan George) who is carrying his baby. Jones is trained by Richardson and a younger agent (Anthony Hopkins) to go on a mission to find the film or to see the missiles for himself. Jones finds George and after a quick roll in the hay, she tells him that she had an abortion. He and Hopkins go drinking together and Jones doubles down in his spy training. Unfortunately, poor Jones is still a bit of a loose cannon, and once he is past enemy lines, he kills a truck driver who tried to seduce him and winds up stuck out in the middle of nowhere. In the end, Jones meets a tragic fate and Hopkins is left pissed off that Jones was sacrificed in what amounted to a game, the outcome of which was not crucial to the Brits or the Russians. This bleak, cynical thriller, based on a John LeCarre novel, is interesting but doesn't really stand above any of the others in this genre (THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, THE KREMLIN LETTER). Jones is handsome, coming off a bit like a James Dean/Brad Pitt type, and carries the weight of the central role well, and Richardson and Hopkins are fine as always. Anna Massey and Susan George are also in the cast. The first half, with the scenes of Jones and Hopkins training, is the best. [DVD]

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