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Spies when you're in from the Cold II

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Something about a blizzard gets me thinking of watching some good spy flicks. A few of them feature the women of espionage, a topic we haven't covered before. I won't be including Ian Fleming's women here.

We have one copy of the original Mata Hari still circulating starring Greta Garbo. By all accounts it is not true to the actual spy's life, but interesting as a film archive item

Better still, Pinewood Studios 1950 production Carve her name with Pride dramatizes the life of Violette Szabo, a Londoner of French descent who agrees to meet Allied operatives by parachuting into occupied France. It's a little anachronistic as the heroine's hairdo and dress are post-war and the film conceals as much as it reveals, but Szabo's sacrifice makes it worth watching. Another famous spy 'Odette' consulted on the details of the movie which stars Virginia Mckenna and Paul Scofield.

Charlotte Gray stars the always great Cate Blanchett as Sebastian Faulks' fictional resistance fighter whose life is similar to the real Violette Szabo's. Gray is also fluent in French and connected to a man fighting in France.

Inglourious Basterds: Yes the misspelling is correct! Be prepared for graphic violence. This popular World War II film features Nazi hunters in France. Diane Kruger stars as a German double agent helping their mission and Melanie Laurent is in the central role as a Parisian theatre owner determined to avenge her family's murder by a Nazi commander: an excellent academy winning film.


Spies When You're In from the Cold

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I intended to review some westerns, but found myself lured into the world of international espionage (on dvd, anyway). Here's a run down of some of CPL's enjoyable spy thrillers from comic to literary...For us to know, and you to find out!

The Third Man Orson Welles' film usually appears on must-see lists in large part due to its chase scene in the sewers of Vienna. Welles plays the villian who is hit by a car and dies (or does he?) just as his novelist buddy Holly Martins arrives to visit. While Joseph Cotton as Martins investigates, he becomes infatuated with Harry Lime's lover, but we have to follow him through the dark streets and underground to find out whether or not he gets his man and woman.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mistery, The Spy who Shagged Me , Goldmember I can't help loving Mike Myers' spoof of 1960s spy characters all rolled into the ridiculous spook Austin Powers. Anyone who enjoyed the earlier Bond movies (Matt will review Bond dvds later) will enjoying seeing Myers play Dr. Evil and Goldmember. "Yeah, baby, yeah!" 3 by John Le Carre....

The Constant Gardener
I loved John Le Carre's novel and this movie was true to the spirit of it, even if some aspects were downplayed. The ever lovely Ralph Fiennes plays a civil servant and devoted husband investigating his wife's murder. Le Carre's signature emphasis on the conflict between love in all its manifestations and political expediency plays out as Fienne's character uncovers the workings of a large pharmaceutical company in Africa.

The Tailor of Panama Pierce Brosnan is his sarcastic, sartorial best in this film, costarring Jamie Lee Curtis and Geoffrey Rush. Brosnan plays a ne'er do well British spy who attempts to trade intelligence, repartee, and maybe even the Panama Canal with his suitmaker (Rush) and the tailor's wife (Curtis).

The Spy who came in from the Cold Richard Burton is a bit wooden in this Criterion classic, but the 60's era film creates a moody atmosphere of coldwar tension, particularly in divided Berlin. Burton's character's mission is to pretend to defect to entrap a ruthless agent for the East. His situation becomes complicated by his communist girlfriend and the mysterious Smiley.

We have other Le Carre classics such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and A Perfect Spy . For other spy dvds, see Moe's review of the addictive MI-5tv series in an earlier blog post. You may also want to view Hitchcock's The Man who Knew Too Much.