Friday, 18 November 2011

The Square

The Square is an Australian film which was shelved by its author because he considered it not strong enough but was persuaded to make the film by his brother. He should have trusted his instincts.

Raymond Yale is a contractor working on the site of a new development who accepts substantial backhanders from sub contractors. He is having a passionate sexual affair with a young neighbour who is married to a criminal. He promises to leave his wife and set up home separately with the young woman as soon as he has amassed sufficient funds start a new life.
The young wife discovers that her husband has hidden the substantial proceeds of crime in the loft of their home. She devises a plan for the lover to set fire to the home after they have removed the money. Unfortunately a relative is in the home when the fire is started and dies so the couple have become murderers along with accomplices involved. There then follows a series of misadventure which descend into farce in which several people are killed. Finally there is confrontation between the criminal and his crime partner which appears to be settled when the crime partner is killed however as the lover wrestles with criminal over the possession of the weapon it goes off and shoots the young woman in the head killing her instantly. And the moral is.

Un Posto all’inferno, A place of Hell

Just two to go with Un Posto all’inferno, A place of Hell, an Italian 1969 released film which has recently been successfully dubbed in English. Most dubbed films are awful as those undertaking the dubbing fail to understand the idiom of the original language with some excruiating results. It was only at the end of he film that I discovered it had been dubbed.. It is set on a small Pacific Island where the indigenous people are held captive by the Japanese during World War II. On the island is a British Officer who has been responsible for setting up the new radar system and which has now fallen intact into the hands of the enemy.

There is also a small group of American soldiers where the officer holds the rank as War Correspondent.

Typical for this kind of film in which the allies provide heroic sacrifices by wounded individuals who enable their companions to escape from advancing forces by holding their position for a time despite mammoth odds against them. They are assisted by heroic villagers and they are able to carry out major assaults such as the destruction of the radar system with minimum casualties compared to those of the enemy who also speak perfect English,

The final sequence of the film as a surreal quality as an indigenous young woman bravely explores each of the hut dwellings at the waters edge to ensure it is as deserted as it appears. Her search takes several minutes. However when the remaining soldiers reach the centre of the village and approach the small sea going patrol boat they find that they are surrounded but several dozen enemy troops who have buried themselves in fox holes and covered pits in the sand. They are all killed but even after this the remaining men are attacked by two sailors on the patrol boat so that in the end only two survive including the war correspondent who surveying the beach covered with bodies comments about the cost of war and its futility.

The Jack Hunter Trilogy

This is good point to introduce a mini series of three separate but connected films under the banner heading of Jack Hunter with each film titled the Lost Treasure of Ugarit, The Quest for Akenaten’s Tomb and the Star of Heaven.

The main story is the search for two artefacts which combined become an extraordinary weapon in the form a nuclear laser which turns rock into molten lava. There are various interests in the search of the two artefacts. Jack is a treasure seeker who works for a National USA intelligence service which operates with dozens of operatives keeping watch via satellites on banks of computer screens and led by a comparatively young woman who has a love hate relationship with Jack. He has a history love and sexual adventures although it is not clear which affair is what.
In the first he teams up with a US educated Syrian Nadia who is only interested in preserving the ancient artefacts and preventing them in being misused when their potential power is understood. She is accompanied by a driver who is a stupid and nervous coward who is intended to provide comic interludes. He does have his moments which makes his usefulness worthwhile and at the end of the series Jack and Nadia are present at the airport when he goes to greet his long suffering and separated wife anticipating she is the small height challenged and large weight challenged person who appears to open her arms to him but is for another while his wife turns out to be a beautiful beauty queen type.

There is also someone with wealth and the ability to hire hundreds of Russian type young hoods and he employs a former associated and friend of Jack which leads to the friend not killing Jack when the opportunity arrives in each of the films, sometimes on more than one occasion. There are also corrupt officials who with the prospect of Treasure also become involved. The antiseptic death rate is ginormous but remains suitable for Saturday morning Children‘s cinema. The films are allegedly set in various historical sites around the Mille East and also in various cities including Paris and Istanbul.

In the end the one of the main villains kills the other and just when it looks as if he has been successful using the weapon to destroy just about everyone and everything in sight there is an eclipse which means that the weapon cannot draw on the required energy from the sun and Jack is able to part the weapon for the surviving villain who falls into magna river he has created. Moreover Nadia is able to get hold of the weapon and throws it into the Magna causing a nuclear type of explosion. There is not much else which needs to be said. In fact there is nothing else to be said.

The Doomsday Prophecy.

Although I have number of films to record it cannot be described as a film fest.

I begin with an end of the world forecast film which combines the Mayan Calendar with the Planet X or Planet Niburu forecast resulting in the films 2012 which as will be recalled featured volcanic and earthquake eruptions as the earth alters its axis following major solar flares and leading to a second great flood with the creation of several great Ark Ships so that humanity survives, and Deep Impact where a seven mile comet impacts with earth.

The Mayan calendar is said to end on December 21st 2012 along with less precise forecasts of other ancient peoples where as the Planet X being on a long rotation around the sun due to come close to the earth in 2012 with damaging consequences is more the notion of a 20th century individual who believed they received messages from an mind implant (upon which a large part of the X files was based)

The film is called the Doomsday Prophecy and was part of a week long series of disaster movies on a free film channel on Sky, free in the sense that an additional payment is not required.

Two individuals receive summons to meet a recluse professor living in the outback. One is a specialist in investigating ancient artefacts including the famous Mayan statues on Easter Island. Why they were there and how were they created? The other works for a publishing company who sent to meet the recluse who has offered to give to the company the exclusive rights to publish his latest manuscript forecasting the future following the success of an earlier publication along the lines of Nostradamous which can be interpreted as forecasting events that have already occurred. He aks for the young man to be his contact. Why these two individual should have been selected to meet with reclusive professor is subsequently revealed.

When the two reluctant would be saviour of humanity meet they are suspicious and hostile pulling in opposite directions when they arrive at the home of the Professor and find him murdered The clue is a kind of ancient rod which enables the recipient to receive visions of the future. And as the two subsequently find the use has the effect of destroying the brain and therefore the body of the user as it reaches the point where the world is due to end unless certain action is taken. The Professor points the way for the two to solve the mystery adn save humanity.

Meanwhile there are two developments which add to the pressure upon the couple. The first is that a series of catastrophes occur of increasing magnitude which includes the destruction of central New York, the disappearance of the Italian peninsular and such like. They are also pursued by a special Presidential Task force who have been monitoring the Professor and those he has contacted. A leading general in national security instructs a agent commander on the ground that it is the national interest to kill the two chosen ones and retrieve the rod, although it is never explained about how the General got to know about the rod and its powers.

The chosen young man has used the rod twice, the first unintentionally when he picks it up out of curiosity on finding the body and then intentionally when he understands it potential significance. He realises that for some reason the authorities are enemies while the young woman wants to get into contact with them and reveal all. Eventually they are able to persuade the lead pursuer that they must carry out the mission although they remain unclear what it is. They are assisted by an elder of the local indigenous people and his daughter who form part of the second visions as does leader of the pursuers.

What emerges is that the world was in a similar peril thousands of years before and that the Mayan statues were part of a device by an other world civilization which creates a force field when the rod is inserted in one of the heads and which counters the force directed at the earth which is potential creating its end. The rogue General wants to be the one to hold and control the power but when he does so he finds that it does not work for him.

The reason is that young man is the son of the Professor adopted as an infant and has inherited the power although how the Professor came to have the rod and the power is never explained. In the spectacular finale they are able to raise a new set of Mayan type figures which emerge from the ground in the area known to exist by the indigenous elder. The earth is saved from complete destruction although it is a close call.

Interview with an Assassin

I have previously mentioned before the other film which deals more directly with the day of the Assassination of President John F Kenney entitled Interview with an Assassin. The film is made in the style of the Blair Witch project with a hand held poor quality camera and sound work and as a ‘mocumentary’. I hated the Blair Witch as did the majority of the audience on a weekend evening because it was badly made and ineffective as a scare movie. The style of this film also results in a lack of credibility if one sets aside the boredom and persists in viewing. It could have been a much better if not great film because it deals with one of the great cover-ups of all time. The Assassination of JFK and the cover up by the Warren Commission. It is unlikely that the US government will ever come clean that there was more than one shooter and that the bullet which causes the fatality came from what is known as The Grassy Knoll on the other side of a roundabout and where the shot was most likely fired from behind and above the fencing.

The film concerns an out of work camera man Ron Kobeleski who is contacted by a neighbour and retired marine Walter Ohlinger who prefers to be called Barry. Barry alleges that he is dying of cancer and wants to confess a secret which he has kept for forty years. He says he was the gunman that fired the fatal bullet and he shows Ron the bullet casing which he kept after it was fired before making his escape. He persuades Ron to take it to a specialist laboratory who are able to confirm that it is similar to the weapon used to kill the President but it would be necessary to compare with casing with the bullet to confirm it was the precise weapon. For some reason Ron leaves the casing at the laboratory which later disappears.

Given the significance of such a story if it was true Ron does not go immediately to the authorities and goes along with Barry’s assertion that to do so would endanger both lives and the family of the camera man. They go on a tour of the area and to find others who were involved in the conspiracy and still alive. Barry’s ex wife says her husband is a lunatic and a fraud while others appear to add credence to what the man says. However there are two twists as the film ends. Ron finds himself involved as Barry cleverly gets himself into a position where he attempts to assassinate the present day President. Barry says he just wanted to prove that he could do it to confirm his story about the killing of JFK. The second twist is that Barry then attempts to kill Ron who manages to wound Barry.

The film ends with a policeman saying to the incarcerated Ron awaiting trial that he could help his case by revealing the location of the tapes and the account of what was said to have happened re JFK and their subsequent research. Ron says that would end his life and that of his family. Ron is therefore telling the tale to us after his release from prison and it is mentioned that Barry died in prison not from cancer but mysteriously and allegedly by other prisoners. The film attracted interest in Texas and was made with a budget of just $1 million. It showed.

Both films are about how characters whose live are significantly changed from the interaction with strangers, one for the better and one for the worse.

Love Field

There is more weight to Love Field a 1992 released USA independent film with Michelle Pfeiffer and Dennis Haysbert who are two individuals with spectacularly different reasons for taking a Greyhound bus from Dallas heading for connections to Washington DC. Michelle plays a housewife beautician, suffering the loss of a pregnancy and married to a stereotype male more interested in beer, watching games on TV, having his wife cook and tend to his needs on demand. He does not share her enthusiasm for JFK as the only politicians she ever voted for and adores his wife with scrapbooks filled with pictures and articles.

She takes time off to help a neighbour who is wheelchair bound to go to Love Field, the name of the airport, to see the President and his wife arrive. Because of Traffic problems they arrive just as the plane lands and a security man/policeman enables them to stand at the barrier with a good chance of shaking the hand of Jacqueline as she walks their side of the line. Unfortunately the woman she accompanies has dropped her purse (handbag) and while she is retrieving this the President’s wife shakes the hand of her companion and she misses close contact.

Later she arrives at the hairdressers/beauticians and notices crowds outside a TV shop window and they learn the news of the assassination. She is devastated and decides she must attend the funeral and makes plans to attend the funeral when it is known where it will take place. He husband refuses to take time off so he can drive her despite the incentive of staying at the same motel they used on their honeymoon so she goes off without his knowledge taking the Greyhound.

She sits at the back just in front of the seats used by “the coloureds” with Haysbert in what one critic described as a Sydney Poitier standard role but as with Pfeiffer both actors quickly transcend the stereotype characters that have been created for them. She is talks without thinking at great speed, jumping to conclusions and judgements emotionally on impulse without rational basis echoing the prejudices of upbringing and lack of education. She is a typical while working class American of that era.

Haysbert plays a father who was not ready to marry the mother of their daughter when the pregnancy was determined. When the mother died the child appears to have been cared for by the maternal family or foster parents who mistreated her physically so that she flinches when anyone goes to touch. Ffeiffer discovers this when the toilet for ‘the coloureds’ is closed and she take the child into the ‘whites only’ and discovers bruising. She accurately assumes that the child is being kidnapped and the man is the perpetrator and contacts the police giving her particulars. She breaks off and quickly learns that that the story that the father had undertaken his national service and on learning of the death of the mother had gone to find the child and immediately discovered the ill treatment. He was able to show pictures of the girl as a baby with her mother and himself to confirm the story and that because he was not the legal father he taken the child without going through the legal process to immediately protected. The days before DNA!

The coach is then forced off the road to avoid an accident and they are taken to the nearest Bus and Coach station to await a relief vehicle. Because from his rear seat he had noted a drunken driver trying to overtake he is required to give evidence and the local police become concerned as an officer has gone to the address of the Ffeiffer and alerted the husband to where she was and the possible destination. They decide to jump the bus leaving her case on the vehicle but he has his own and the child’s clothing with them.

They steal a clapped out car that only does 40 MPH but they get this fixed along the way but eventually it breaks down and they have to overcome an attack on him by three white men while she is away trying to get help and the girl hiding in the car. Fortunately she has a distant relative in the area and they are taken in while he recovers. The woman cooperates with keeping silent when the local sheriff calls to enquire among all the isolated properties in the area because they are on the look out for the threesome after it has been established that the man was involving in the kidnapping of the children and was being helped by the white woman.

This relative contacts the husband who comes to take his wife home but she refuses and it is evident this marks the end of the marriage. There is to be no happy ending though as such because the couple recognise the inevitable when attempting to get to the Presidential funeral at Arlington. He is given a custodial sentence but in the Washington area when Ffeiffer also settles and keeps in contact with the girl. The final scene is his release. Ffeiffer is divorced but managing on her own with the road trip having enabled her to stand on her two feet, grow up and understand more of the reality of the society and the prejudice that existed and continues to do so. Her performance led to a nomination for an Academy Award for an actor in leading female role.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

London Boulevard

London Boulevard is described as a 2010 British Film noir. Perhaps it is, but for me it is another violence exploitation movie in the genre of Lock Stock and Two Barrels which appeals to the weekend lads and lasses. Colin Farrell plays a contemporary East End criminal released from prison who wants to go straight, or at least not return for any more porridge and evening pint mugs of cocoa. He is collected by a former friend and associate Billy who says he can stay at his flat which is decidedly up market because it has been provided by the man he now works for the notorious Rob Gant played by the ubiquitous crime boss Ray Winston.

At first Farrell as Mitchell (any connection with the Mitchell’s of the Old Vic is coincidental) resists the offers from Winston and investigates the offer of a security guard to Keira Knightly who is well suited for playing Charlotte your today’s flat chested stick actress model and creative artist who cannot go anywhere with anyone because of the paparazzi who have somehow persuaded the owners of a neighbouring building to allow them to camp out on the roof so there is are only a couple of spots in the garden of the West London house where she resides and shares with Davis Thewlia who plays an disturbed business manager.

The absurdity of this aspect of the plot but one of several similar aspects of film which is all about slick appearance over substance. In reality she would have vacated the premises long ago to something offering greater internal security or have taken appropriate injunctions. The idea of someone like Jordan being such a successful business manager is also pure fantasy. She also has a grand county house in need of renovation but again without adequate securing fencing and screening.

What Mitchell is not aware when he arrives is that she is suffering after a date rape in Rome when the perpetrator another fashionista film producer I think, is dealt with by the businesses manager although I not sure if he was murdered or severely harmed. There are two attractions to the job. The first it has accommodation and the second is that he is a stupid man as well as a criminal and takes a shine to the lady of the house because she is fascinated by his ruthless hard man criminality. He is a dangerous thug no different from the crime boss who recognises this and offers to take him under his wing.

Winston is no nonsense crime thug who likes to order scampi and chips with beer at posh nosh restaurants and uses his money and reputation to bully everyone into submission. Farrell turns to him for help when a tramp he knows, although it is not explained why he would ever take an interest in the tramp, is murdered by two young Turks from a local estate one of whom is a professional footballer which I suspect is supposed to surprise teenage viewers.

In the event Winston’s henchman picks up the wrong man but this does not the boy being tortured and killed. The film also features a corrupt policeman Detective Inspector Bailey played by Eddie Marsden. So how does it all end well DI Bailey gets ambitious and is murdered by Thewlis as Jordan. Farrell and he take the body to the water system at the country house so the body will enter the adjacent lake/river. He also murders Winstone in a shoot out where he knocks out Winstone’s whore and so that it looks as if she had killed the security guard who is made to look as if he has killed Marsden or vice versa.

Farrell is then knifed to death by the footballer he is trying to find while fortunately for her Keira as Charlotte is able to show she had nothing to do with any of this by being on a plane to the USA for an engagement there. And the moral is? Criminals are no different from crooked police and overpaid footballers and fashionista personalities together with red top papers paying the paparazzi. They are all scum bags who meet early bloody deaths. While the former may be true that latter is sadly not.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Snake Eyes

Snake Eyes is a 1998 released film featuring Nicholas Cage in a bravura performance as a dodgy detective who knows everybody who is anybody in contemporary Atlantic City which he regards as his manor. He attends a major Boxing event intended to help rebuild the image of the City at which also present is the United Sates Defence Secretary on his was back from attending a demonstration of a new missile Defence system which the Department is considering buying from a private company. Cage is accompanied by going back best friend who is the chief of staff and security officer for the Secretary.

Cage has gambled out of his depths on the Champ beating his opponent and is shocked when the champion appears to take a dive although this is only apparent later from video tapes. Before this his attention is directed at a sexually attractive red headed young woman who takes a ringside seat. Another young woman takes the vacated seat of the chief of staff who has moved to talk to the young woman and who had then moved away up a stairway as he approached. This young woman is shot wounded as the Secretary of State is also shot and killed.

The chief of staff shoots the assassin who is located at the top of the steps where he was following the red headed woman as she left. The State police attempt to take charge but Cage exerts his authority until Federal Government agents arrive. There is lock down at the stadium while the identities of everyone are checked out and to establish witnesses to the event. Cage watches available video and works out the champ has dived and confronts him, gaining the admission that he was blackmailed because of gambling debts to take the dive at a signal from a man in the crowd.

He also works out that the young woman who sat in front of the Defence Secretary is connected although the initial reaction from the information about the killed assassin is that he was a Palestine Terrorist. The young woman behaves suspiciously in covering a wound to her arm and talking her way into the hotel room of a gambler at the adjacent Casino to the fight Hall with a view to hiding out.

Cage goes in pursuit using closed circuit TV to track her movements. By this time we also know that his friend is a villain and involved in the killing of the Defence Secretary and attempted killing of the young woman. He has a small team with him who included the red headed woman who was wearing a wig and is an official member of staff. He has killed he three members of his support team and is also in pursuit of the young woman.

What emerges is that the young woman is a research worker at the company and discovered that the evidence of the missile system working was fixed to give the impression that the targets at the demonstration were hit when they were not. The company wanted the contract to go through which they had bribed the Chief of staff and hoped they would be able to fix the faults before the required delivery dates.

The young woman had attempted to contact the Defence Secretary and arranged to meet him at the Boxing match to pass on the evidence of the conspiracy. The style of the film is that of the caper the Tourist although there are several more dramatic moments including when Cage has to wrestle with the accusation that his best friend is behind the killing. There are also moments of farce. Their respective lives are saved and the friend killed.

Cage is immediate recognised as a hero and his ambition to become the Mayor of Atlantic City becomes possible. However the press who have been investigating his activities produce evidence that leads to his arrest for corruption. His wife abandons him and he loses custody of their son. He is also abandoned by his mistress. On the day before he is due to commence a prison sentence he meets the young woman whose life he saved and who thanks him for his involvement as his actions prevented the fraud being perpetrated and which could have resulted in the loss of soldiers’ lives. Despite the difference in ages she says she will wait for him after they kiss.

Throughout the film there is a sexually attractive women involved in a way I cannot now remember. As the final credits roll we see a construction team placing a large column into a hole and the sight of large ruby which the woman had been seen wearing, What the implications of this is in terns of the Mafia tradition of burning in concrete as well as among the fishes is uncertain except for the reputation of Atlantic City being a Mafia style gangland run City from the days of Prohibition, Nucky Thompson and the Boardwalk Empire.


A similar kind of caper although one which was more inclined to take itself seriously is Mozambique a 1965 British Drama. As with the Tourist the aspect of the film which engages is the location shooting at the Victoria Falls and in Portugal who then managed the African country as a colony. It has to be said there is no rational justification for any of the action centring on the falls as the main action appears to centre on the Capital city which is in the far south of the country and smuggling to the island of Zanzibar which is off the coast of a neighbouring country to the far north. It is possible that the location of the hotel and the nightclub featured in the film was not in the capital city although it is unlikely there were two International airports in the country at that time.

The film is the story of an out of work pilot in Portugal since the aircraft he was flying crashed killing his passengers and where he was the only survivor. He is offered a job in Mozambique provided with a one way ticket and not told what his duties will be. Also on the same plane is a young and attractive singer also out of a job who has been offered a contract to sing at a night club again with only a one way ticket. Both are clearly desperate to have accepted the offer on this basis.

Prior to their departure a man is seen travelling down some steps and then is found murdered at the same time a number of children are also passing down the same steps. There is an important clue here which will escape most viewers unless they have some advanced insight into the story.

I cannot remember now why the pilot comes to the attention of the Portuguese authorities and in particular one police inspector but he does and it emerges that his interest is in the activities of the man who has hired the pilot and similar to the Tourist the interest is as much in the location of the ill gotten funds in a numbered account which it emerges the murdered man on the steps was carrying information in the attaché case.

In Mozambique where the main action takes places the pilot is surprised, rather than shocked, to find that his employer has died and that his widow, played by Hildegard Knef appears under the control of the mans chief assistant who in turn taken control of the nightclub and is assisted by a at least one heavy as well as other security personal.

There are various scenes at the night club which appears an extraordinary odd place filled with unhappy looking people who spend their time listening to acts or sitting in silence. We are treated to an African dance troupe and to various boring singers even by the standards of the day. This includes the new recruit although the contribution by Knef later in the film is worth attention and only underlines the gulf between her voice, the song and performance and that of everyone she followed.

Having said this about the club it is also used as a brothel where the singers are expected to sleep with customers under management arrangements. There is an Arab racketeer based in Zanzibar but with a penthouse in Park Lane who engages in white slaving kidnapping and rape. The new singer is duly kidnapped and carried off to Zanzibar after she has established a sexual relationship with the pilot who she turns to for protection.

He finds that his task is to fly a light plane involved in trafficking pharmaceutical products and as well as illegal drug substances. This leads him to accompanying the new boss to Zanzibar where he is able to rescue the singer and the three return to the private airfield used for the enterprise. However before arrival they have to take the plane down on a beach because of a clogged fuel line and after fixing decide to take a break at a beach spot for some distance away from where the lane has landed. When the couple return they find the new boss stabbed. They bring the body back with the plane only to find the police waiting and wanting to check for drugs. The two are taken into custody on suspicion for murder.

The senior police office from Portugal has arrived in order to pass to the widow the missing brief case which was subsequently found. It is at this point I cannot remember aspects of the plot which involves another character who the pilot has followed one night from the night club to a first floor apartment. The individual prevents the pilot from entering the apartment on the grounds he has a woman for the bar also in the building living there. Later the pilot discovers that living in the apartment is a man who these days we will describe as a height challenged individual, known in the day as a dwarf. He had been employed to kill the agent with the brief case in Portugal and has merged in with the other children who with amazing coincidence had gone down the steps at the same time. He had also hidden in the plane undetected on the journey to Zanzibar and having doctored the engine intended to kill the new head of the enterprise.

This individual was acting for the widow who he now double crosses and takes off on road on his way over the border via the crossing at the Victoria Falls stopping off at the Victoria Falls hotel for breakfast and room to freshen up. The Portuguese police man accompanies the pilot in a borrowed plane in pursuit of the car and sets down at the nearest airport not without great views of the Falls beforehand. The adventure appears to end at a bridge at the Falls from which there is a fight with the death of the villain. On return to the capital the widow is arrested as the instigator of the deaths in order to gain control of the funds of her husband. The pilot and the singer are able to go off into the sunset as a couple.

The Tourist

I begin the with latest film experience because it was shot primarily in Venice and also in Paris, and never intended to take itself serious, The Tourist 2010 with Angelina Jolie and John Depp and Timothy Dalton was enjoyable late night fun which did not require intense mental or emotional attention..

Alexander Pearce worked as an accountant for an international criminal, an Englishman surrounding himself with Russian Hoods. Alexander steals $2.3 million dollars from his employer and then goes on the run during which time he is pursued by the beautiful Angelina as Elise, an undercover international spy working for the British and in particular Paul Bettany as Inspector John Acheson who is pursing Pearce not as thief or the accountant for an International crime boss, but for unpaid taxes amounting to £744 million. Some £8 million has been devoted to the task to-date.

Elise has one flaw as an undercover spy she falls in love with her honey pot victims and has taken up residence with Pearce reputedly for the greater part of a year. She is consequentially suspended from her job. Pearce then changes his face spending $20 million to achieve his new look during which time he has no direct contact with his bed partner who lives the life without him in Paris spending her say relaxing in pavements cafés and expensive shopping and living the life of rich widow waiting to hear from her partner after his facial transformation.

During this unspecified period she is kept under surveillance by British agents with the help of the French Police although Jolie is all too well aware of their presence. One day at the café a messenger brings her a brief note inside a larger delivery package. The observation squad apprehend the delivery man believing he is Pearce only to find he is who is he is. Elise burns the note as instructed but the ashes are recovered, chemically treated and scanned into a computer programme which reassembles the fragment into the message. Meanwhile she has enjoyed giving those watching her temporary slip which she takes the train from Paris to Venice and attempt to find one person of the same height and build who is sitting alone in a compartment.

She assumes this is to be Pearce but the man quickly disabuses her by stating that he is a bachelor school master from the USA, with an American accent (played by Johnny Depp) on his way as a Tourist to Venice. She assumes or off camera is advised that he is a blind, a patsy, someone who will be taken to be Pearce by the British authorities and the Russian style international hood and followed by Interpol and the pursing former employer after his money. She may have been advised of this in a subsequent note which is not shared with the viewer. She takes him to a pre booked for her expensive suite in a hotel overlooking the Grand Canal which is full of her size designer wear and requires that he sleep on one of the sofas although gives him at kiss at the window for the purpose of making observers believe it is Pearce.

They have a meal in the dining room during which flowers are delivered to the suite and a new message with an invitation for Elise to attend a Ball. We also witness the owner of $2.3 billion ordering his hoods to find Pearce alive but the girl can be killed once Pearce has been secured. The Tourist with the name of Frank Tupelo wakes to find breakfast is being delivered and he still in his night attire when the hoods arrives and start shooting through doors so he has go onto the balcony and get onto the roof and is eventual forced to dive down on to a canopy and then onto a policeman who falls into a canal. He is held by the police several hours after explaining to a senior detective his nightmare of what has happened.

The detective then attempts to sell him to the Russian style hoods but he manages to escape still in hand cuffs and in he canal cruiser in which he has been brought to the meeting place, but before he is handed over his boat is towed away by one driven by Elise. Then is then a low powered chase through the canals because of the enforces speed limit by the Venetian authorities to avoid further damage to the buildings. The couple eventually get away and this costs the surviving Russian hood his life, personally killed by the International criminal in front of a tailor preparing a new suit .

Next Elsie attends the local police/Interpol centre where it is revealed for the first time that she is a suspended British agent because of her relationship with Pearce. True to previous experience she had grown fond of the self effacing American Tourist and she agrees to be wired for the Ball or locating Pearce. She then takes the Tourist to the canal side airport station with his passport and money telling him to return home and forget what happened.

At the Ball she believes someone who has left a new note for her is Pearce but he disappears. Frank the American Tourist gains entry into the Ball and dances with her she disappears while Frank is apprehended by the British out to recover more than the £8 million they have spent to-date trying to secure the £744 in unpaid taxes. The girl makes her away to the rendezvous which because of the wire is also known to the Interpol group who establish surveillance with marksmen covering the windows.

Here Elsie is trapped and threatened with Torture and death by the Englishman and two new Russian Hoods. She reveals the location of the safe but her first try at opening is a false one. Frank who has been watching the event on camera and handcuffed again becomes more and more agitated as the Inspector refuses to give the order to fire on the captors to save the life of Elise because he hopes that the situation will force Pearce to reveal himself.

There should be few viewers by this time who have not worked out that Frank is really Pearce and this is confirmed when he undoes the handcuffs and gets away from the surveillance centre and appears in the apartment introducing himself as Pearce and offering to open the safe if Elise is allowed to depart. She is not so when he goes to the safe the order is given to shoot the criminal and his bodyguards. The boss of the Inspector is present and he lifts the suspension on Elise and immediately discharges her from the service so she can go off with the Tourist. Then the news comes that the man who had left the note at the Ball has been spotted and the unit goes off to apprehend him believing he is Pearce. He turns out to be a genuine American Tourist paid by Pearce to deliver message and be at different places as indicated by mobile phone message having received a significant payment with a promises of more.

Pearce when confronted by his former boss has already explained the extent of the facial reconstruction including an implant to change the sound of his voice and produce the American accent.

Alone with Jolie he opens the safe to reveal passport cash and other goodies, presumable the codes and information on the location of the main funds. The Inspector and his boss arrive back and are forced to blow open the safe where a single cheque is found for the full amount of the back taxes, The Inspector is wanting to mount a new manhunt for Pearce but his boss is philosophical drawing attention that the real villains are dead, that they have recovered the full amount of the taxes and he wishes he couple well who are seen setting of for a new life together and presumably with the balance remaining on the ill gotten gains.

The outstanding question is did Jolie really not realise that the Tourist was not Pearce. Ok he had dramatic facial and voice reconstruction but his manner and general personality will not have changed.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Toy Soldiers

For the second time his week I watched film at midnight which led to going to bed at 2 am and rising the next day at 10am. The film was the 1991 Drama Toy Soldiers. The core story is not original. Wayward rich kids become good when faced with life or death challenge. I have read that there has been criticism at the time of the violence involved given that it is film which would appeal to weekend audience of the teenager and young adult. From my perspective the violence content is well below that of the horror and blood lust available most weekends in most cinemas, nor did I find the violence gratuitous.

In Bogotá Columbia the son of a drug warlord has taken over the Palace of Justice to prevent his father being extradited to the USA. He had taken a number of staff hostage and hurtles a woman to her death from a window in order to exert further pressure on the authorities. When he finds out that the man is already in USA custody he takes the presiding judge away in their helicopter and hurtles him out of the craft once they are airborne.

The action switches to the Regis High School at an unknown destination in the United States which takes the wayward children of the rich and powerful and which have usually been expelled from other establishments. Interestingly they also have scholarship pupils whose parents think it is a bonus to participate. It is a small establishment in substantial grounds taking 93 pupils but a full compliment of staff enabling high academic attainment for those prepared to make the effort with fees to match. As is often the case the most troublesome have the most rich and well known parents and form an alliance of mischief which includes painting the car of the nearest town Sheriff with Rejects in pink as well as renaming the school front entrance board. Punished the group retaliate by moving the entire contents of the offices of school head and deputy out on to the front lawn reassembling exactly as in situ. The deputy, played by the excellent Denholm Elliott, admits he is tempted to spend the day in the sunshine. There are two more examples of their disinterest in formal education which are combined into one after bedtime adventure.

The group have made a den in the basement of now demolished building which they reach from the basement of the kitchen in the main building. Here they listen on speak telephone to adult phone line chat from a special phone which one of the group has rigged so that they use the extension line of the line of principal. They are also drinking the latest alcohol experience which is vodka with crème-de-menthe which tastes and looks like mouth wash in branded bottles and which the instigator has already sold eight bottles and great profit. Up late in his pyjamas and dressing gown the Principal detects the call and finds the den. Rather than expel the ring leader he says that he is determined to make something of the young man and his leadership potential.

Part of the group has been the son of the Federal Judge appointed to try the case of the extradited drug baron and suspecting an attempt will be made to kidnap the young man he is moved to a safe location. This is where the film falls down because anyone worth their salt in the Justice system would have posted additional security to the existing one person on the gate given the financial and political clout of the young men at the establishment.

We are privy to an incident on the Mexican Border when posing as migrants the son and his men not only kill the police of the border patrol but destroy the vehicle with a mobile rocket. This should have immediately alerted the authorities that the expected attack was on its way and take appropriate additional security measures. This also is the second time that I am mindful, albeit this film was made before 9/11 of the ease at which Terrorist are shown able to cross the border and make their way to the selected destination.

They arrive at school and take control with men placed on the roof of the main building and in the Bell tower, with others in the grounds and the in the building after comprehensively wiring the building with explosives so that if any of the wiring in touched the whole thing will explode. There are two detonating controls one stationery along the bomb control unit and the other a remote taped to the arm of the son. There are hourly head counts and where the departure of one person will lead to the death of five and so on. The gate guard was killed at their arrival and the Principal was the Sheriff and his painted car when they take over takes place so he is outside the building while inside his deputy has assumed the role without revealing the principal has departed. This is the second flaw because although the gangster leader gets his men to go through the files of all the boys he appears to have left those of the staff alone.

From this the leader of the group works out that there are sufficient of the rich and powerful to get their way including the son of a Mafia chief with whom drug baron has done good business. This man attends the parental briefing in the local town much to the interest of the authorities. He gets a message to the incarcerated drug lord who in turn gets a radio message to his son that the boy should be released. The gangsters have eliminated the phone system and use short wave radio to communicate.

Before this situation arises the group of the hostage kids have been put together with two others not previous of their group and this includes a technology whiz kid with a flying saucer plane with remote control. This is to be key to solving the crisis. Understandably the first White House reaction is one of we do not negotiate with Terrorists and the location of the school, the threat to explode and to kill is such that planning an assault is likely to mean casualties possibly on a large scale.

Meanwhile the self styled leader of the Rejects develops a three stage plan. The first is to provide those on the outside with the maximum intelligence so they portrait sketch all the Terrorists and provide a visual map of their location and timetable of movements as well as what they can of the wiring, the explosives and control devices. The second is that they could disable the ability to blow up the school by switching the chip in the main detonation unit to that in the flying saucer plane and thirdly to get the school into the den basement which would be protect from the blast if the school was exploded.

Having devised the plan the first task is to get it to those outside. To achieve this an elaborate plan is worked in which the plane is used to distract attention while the boy leader uses the their everyday means of getting out of the school and into town. The first part works well but when the boy leader runs into troops around the perimeter, instead of accepting the information and letting him get back before the next roll call he is taken to the command post and to which the school head is also taken by helicopter to identify the boy.

The commander says that the plan is too risky and that anyway the decision has been taken to try and negotiate and that the boy cannot return. He breaks away taking a jeep but because of the watch on the top of the house he is unable to move while the role call is made and finding that one is missing four boys and the deputy are selected for execution if the missing boy does not arrive. Two helicopters are used to distract attention and he arrives, takes off his clothes and gives himself a quick shower to arrive in the nick of time explaining he failed to hear the bell. He is taken to the Terrorist and Principal’s study where he is given several skin cuttings strokes on his backside because like the Terrorist leader he was uncontrollable until being disciplined in similar fashion.

Then events take a turn which leads to the suggested plan put into practice. As the Mafia leader admits to another colleague, his son really hates him, but he loves the boy and wants him taken out of the hostage situation. As mentioned the incarcerated Drug baron is able to get a coded message out via his lawyer after being informed of the situation which is then transmitted to his son and the boy is released. This is too much for the young man who does hate his father and has not wish to abandon his friends, attacks a guard and take a machine gun and is killed in an exchange of fire with another guard. The Son of the drug lord generally regrets the failure to release the boy and allows the Principal to come with appropriate officers to collect the body and for the teaching faculty bar the “Principal” to be released although they may have been released earlier as part of the negotiations and when they have been given 24 hours to reflect further on the demands.

The Mafia leader is understandable outraged by the death his son despite the protestations that it was accidental, and orders action which results in the murder of the Drug baron by other prisoners. This is another flaw because the man albeit on remand is being kept with other prisoners and an attempt is only made to move him when there appears to be rioting with setting things on fire.

The authorities realise that once the news of this gets to the son he is likely to retaliate by killing the boys and therefore an assault has to be made with the plan given to them the best and only way of trying to minimise the casualties. They therefore signal their intention to proceed by focusing a searchlight which until then moved around the ground on to the bedroom where the young leader’s party have been placed together. The young leader has been devastated by the death of his closest friend and his confidence undermined in the plan and has to be persuaded by the others to go ahead. They remain unaware that an assault is to be made anyway.

The final part of the film also has dramatic tension and immediate general believability. The power for the area of the school is cut off so that the news of the death of the father is prevented ant the terrorist say they will act if it is not switched back on within the hour. The principal draws on a map how the assault force can enter the grounds by the way used to get the plan out to them. I was surprised how small the force for this is which is just as well that the Principal told to stay behind decides to follow shortly.

There is good tension built as the boy leader with the help of one other uses the air conditioning system to get from a bathroom into the Principal’s Study and there switches the chips as the toy plane was not shot down or destroyed after confiscation but placed in the office which the boy leader noted when he was taken to be disciplined.

However during the assault one of the guards on the roof manages to drop a grenade on to the trio of government below as they are killed by battle helicopters. The principal finds two dead and one injured and immobile, takes a weapon and makes his way up to the balcony outside his office just in time to prevent the killing of the boy leader by the son of he Drug baron who was also about to tamper with the control unit to blow up the establishment after seeing the pressing of the remote set off just the toy plane and not the explosives. In the cross fire as those coming down from the helicopters and entering through windows in standard fashion reached the doorway of the room also open fire. The principle is shot in the shoulder and Terrorist leader show dead.

Meanwhile the rest of the boys plus the deputy have made their way to the hiding place where the deputy is fortified by some of the vodka that was not yielded to the principal previously.

Forgotten event was the death of a master attempting to save a boy who was trying to phone out. The boy lived but the mast dies making a total of two adults and one boy from the schools and, two special services with the head one special services injured.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Looking Glass War

Wide awake at midnight I decided to continue my Le Carré education by watching for the first time the film of the book the Looking Glass War and which appears to be a significant variance with the original work for the business of attracting cinema audiences.

To-date I have read the Karla Trilogy of Tinker Tailor 2162 2163 2164), The Honourable Schoolboy (2146 2147) and Smiley’s People (2135 2153 2154), watched the BBC TB production of Tinker Tailor on a digital set of DVD’s (2161 2162 2163 and 2164) and the a home video recording of Smiley although I now have the Digital version to view before Christmas. I have also seen the recent film edition in theatre twice. I have in the past read the Russia House which I shall re read after viewing the film which I have also seen on TV. I am in the process of completed my second reading of the Mission Song (2172). I have recently also viewed A Deadly Affair (2171) and ordered the book and will also purchase the Looking Glass War shortly.

The film and I also understand the book is the story of a former Wartime special services department which as with the Mission Song suggests the Ministry of Defence. The Circus and Smiley, the contemporary professional only become involved together with a representative of the CIA towards the end of the film when the project proves as bad in practice as it is in its conception. I will concentrate exclusively on the film version here as I intend to purchase and read the book. The main difference appears to be that in book former World War II agent is used which in the film a young virile lunatic is introduced together with his girl friend which works against the main point of the story.

The Department is headed by one LeClerc (Ralph Richardson) and assisted by Haldane (Paul Rogers) who bring in a young Anthony Hopkins who undertake some intelligence fieldwork within the permitted area of the West but not behind the Iron Curtain which is within the province of the Circus.

One of the key moments in film is when LeClerc explains to Hopkins that in the war they had to send countless young people to their certain deaths to ascertain if the enemy had progressed beyond their V1 and V2 rockets. Hopkins hits back at one point that because they then felt alive with their power and direct involvement now as old men there are trying to recapture the experience through others. This echoes comments by George Smiley when talking about his wartime experience with Dieter Frey in the Deadly Affair.

The cause of their excitement is that a wartime contact living in East Germany has sent him a photograph of what appears to be a long distance Russian rocket in Germany and the department bribes a British pilot from London to Finland to go off course and photograph and area to establish if Russian Rockets have been sited to reach as far as the UK. The original photography is blurred. The pilot complains about the mission because of flying low in the weather conditions encountered and passes a camera and film to a departmental field officer brought out of retirement for the purpose. Because this mission has not been sanctioned the contact he has to walk along a dark snow covered road from the airport to his hotel as he cannot afford a taxi. He is knocked down and killed in a genuine accident with the roll of film falling from his pocket into the snow at the side of the roadway where he has been thrown.

Hopkins is sent to retrieve the body and stall the authorities who query the fact that the man possessed two passports and that Hopkins although claiming to be a relative has a different name. Back at the department the principals are convinced it was murder to retrieve the film. They convinced the Minister to fund the training and sending ending of one agent into East Germany to check the area at first hand. A sum of £20000 is mentioned for which there will be no records kept.

Hopkins is charged with breaking the news of the man’s death to his wife and their young child. The girl is on her own at the flat unwilling to open the door from parental instruction and about to go to bed as she talks through the letter box. Her mother is at work and they leave a message with the girl to say they will return with news about her father.

Hopkins returns late to a dinner party with his own child waiting for him and his wife (Anna Massey) angry at his failure to arrive for the meal and concerned that he has found someone else. Hopkins is upset about the impact of him of death of their agent on the family and the child in particular.

Having secured financial approval the Department attempts to find someone suitable for the mission and pick on a young German seaman who is being held having jumped ship and was hoping to stay in the UK where from a previous visit he had met and made pregnant the delectable Susan George.

He is offered permission to stay if he undertakes a mission involving illegal entry into East Germany making contact with the photographer to see if he has any more pictures and to try and check the area and sending back by radio any information of value. The mission will take six week including his training which is arranged out of town and where Hopkins is assigned as his minder and is to accompany the young man up to the border fencing.

The first part of the film concerns the unsuitability of the temperamentally volatile young man for the mission and the doubts of the trainers and of Hopkins. The young man breaks out at one moment in order to spend time with the girl friend but this is short lived when he finds that has had an abortion uncertain of his intentions towards her and ability to stay in the UK. He admits that it is child which was his motivation and that without that she is only one of many young woman who find him attractive because of his looks and attitude.

Hopkins and the young man end up fighting and then getting drunk and being thrown out of the pub into a torrential rain falling night.

In the second part of the film follows the mission which goes wrong from the moment Leiser cuts and crawls his way under the fencing and then badly cuts one hand while a patrol goes past. He is then confronted by an individual guard who he kills. This alerts the East German Police and the Russians to his presence and who make the joke that it is unusual for someone to break in!

Leiser gets a lift when stopping at a coffee stop in the countryside and kills the driver when he admits he heard about the border guard murder and puts two and two together. He puts the body in the rear only to find an angry Alsatian, To create subsequent drama we do not see him dispose of the body and the animal and the vehicle, What is extraordinary is that on the chosen route off the beaten track to the extent that apart from the odd police vehicle and a cycle club there are no other vehicles.

However at one point when coming up to a herd of sheep blocking the road he encounters a pushy female with a child she says is a friend and appears to have been waiting for a lift. Shortly after they encounter an armed police check point and appear to fake his way saying that the reason why his papers are not those on the vehicle movement permit is because of late switch in drivers. The back of the vehicle is checked and is empty

They think he has got away with it but we know from a telephone conversations between the checkpoint and the Russians that the authorities are well aware that he is the spy killer and are keeping tabs on his movements for their own as yet undisclosed purposes.

The trio take a break by a lake where the girl decides it would better to ditch the car, revs it up and send it into the water.

Leiser makes his separate way to the photographer having reached the town destination but the man seems to think it is a game reliving the past and has no film or additional information. Leiser then makes his way to the hotel in town convinced it has been a wild goose chase and meets up with the young woman who is without the boy. While they are spending time together in the room a large Russian Rocket is taken through the town on a transporter. Rather than send the information there and then the girl suggests they go to a large office block where she has access and where he send the information. The authorities track the broadcast and the location.

Meanwhile the department is visited by the Circus and the CIA following the media being briefed by the East Germans about entry into their country and death, similar again in respect of the trap set in Tinker Tailor. The mission has been compromised and therefore has no further involvement abandoning Leiser to his fate; He and the girl are killed with the East Germans hoping he has advised of the missile which presumably was brought by the hotel to create the required impression. The book ending is said to have the spy captured and his fate unknown.

The problem with the film is that the basic point of he old order trying to provide themselves against their contemporary counterparts will be lost on anyone who not the basic background although the Karla trilogy with its more detailed accounts of the work of the Circus came later.

I thought with the death the film made a good point about the Spying game as did the Spy who came in from the Cold, but a far cry from the world of James Bond. Not a great film because so much seemed contrived and lacking the Le Carré usual story integrity but it engaged and made its point.

It ends with a bright spring summer day when the snow has disappeared and children discover the roll of film which they open and expose and then carry with them as one would a kite floating in the air above their heads. There is therefore doubt what was on the film. We suspect nothing of significance reinforcing that the man was accidentally killed and that the rocket displayed in the town was intended to give a false message to the West as the authorities delayed taking action until the transmission was made. He had been supplied with an ancient radio to underpin the cover story that this was a one off individualist.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Le Carre film The Deadly Affair (Call of the Dead novel)

This evening I enjoyed the 1966 film version of John Le Carré’s Call for the Dead, renamed The Deadly Affair in which for some reason it was decided to change George Smiley, played by James Mason, into Charles Dobbs but kept his wife as Ann played by Harriet Anderson, the Swedish Actress from the Bergman films Summer with Monika (1952) A Lesson in Love (1954) Through a Glass Darkly (1961)Cries and Whispers (1972) Fanny and Alexander (1982), which I have seen. Peter Guillam who featured in the book is renamed Bill Appleby and is played by a young and slightly camp Kenneth Haig. The book which I have now ordered has an opening chapter on Smiley’s History and other changes including the involvement of the East German Hans Dieter Mundt who we are to meet in again in the Spy Who Came In from the Cold.

The film begins with George Smiley having a new job clearance review chat with Foreign Office civil servant Samuel Fennan played by Robert Flemying in a brilliant cameo reminding of the chats between Smiley and Bland and with Bill Haydon in particular(Tinker Tailor) an where I looked forward and checking with the original text.

Fennan explains his involvement with the Communist Party at Oxford in the 1930’s and participation in Left Wing causes including fighting with the International Brigade in Spain in 1936 and then coming to terms with the reality. He communicates in an open and relaxed manner which Dobbs puts down to nervousness.

I hate calling him Dobbs although Charles is OK but will henceforth call him Smiley and George who feels Fennan’s manner is not one guilt, but suggests was due to a slight nervousness. George appears satisfied and apologetic for the interview arising from an anonymous typewritten letter which the Circus has worked out to be that of an Olivetti portable typewriter which looked one up from the basic Lettera 22 which I bought during by six months failure as an Olivetti salesman in the city of London, and more like the Lettera 32 which was designed for production in 1963. There is no reference to the Circus and the rest of the jargon which I suspect the production and writers felt could only be introduced during the two BBC Karla TV series. I am yet to find out the approach in the Perfect Spy and where the three disk video has now arrived.

That evening when George is home alone and in bed he is woken by Peter to get to the office to see the Adviser (not Control) where he learns that Fennan has committed suicide by shooting himself and left a note for the Foreign Secretary. There will be an internal inquiry but George rightly argues that there was nothing in the interview and his response to indicate he was troubled, in fact the opposite.

Ann arrives home as George leaves and their exchange reflects a younger George with the film set early 1950’s when he found his wife’s promiscuity more difficult to cope with and he cannot resist a barbed comment about her going back to bed. It is someone he knows which he also finds difficult rather than one of the athletic young men with whom she indulges her insatiable lust. Harriet Anderson fails to convey the character’s aristocratic country house background and the whole film has a seedy working class fifties feel to it although the couple do employ a cleaning lady help. which suggests something of their middle class lifestyle

George’s boss on behalf of the Minister insists that they should accept the suicide as a means of covering up their involvement (again in the spirit of his role in Smiley’s People) and that he should visit the widow a European Jewish woman with experience of the German Concentration camps called Elsa and played by that extraordinary special actress Simone Signoret in what should have been recognised as an Oscar winning supporting actress role. Again I hope to discover if her moving dialogue about the plight of women in war comes directly from Le Carré’s writing. She was rescued and brought to the UK by her husband immediately after the end of WWII and she confirms that her husband was distressed by the interview and felt he would not be trusted and his career finished and had taken his life while she was attending a play at the local Repertory Theatre where they lived in Surrey.

In the film the Adviser says he will ring Smiley at the home of the widow to check that everything is Ok so when the phone rings, albeit earlier than anticipated Smiley answers and finds it is a wake up call form the local exchange. This puzzles George because the widow has said that because of past experience she only sleeps a few hours a night but she says that she puts in the call as a reminder.

Smiley has been given the help of Inspector Mendel again a character assisting him in the Karla Trilogy and who is the local Inspector in charge of the alleged suicide, and who is coming up to retirement and who strikes a bond with the Spook and who becomes his Mr Fixit. He, at Smiley’s instigation checks with the phone exchange and finds out that the call was put in by the husband the previous evening before his death. George is then so incensed on being told to stick to the suicide despite the evidence to the contrary that he resigns his position to solve the murder.

He returns home to find a former agent from his wartime Europe experience, called Dieter Frey visiting. He receives a warm welcome and was already known tot hem both for what I believed heard said is seven years. Smiley recruited Dieter as an 18 year old in 1943 when Smiley was working underground in Europe. He refers to having enjoyed their wartime experience when perhaps this is something one should not have done, given the scale of the military and civilian deaths and the maiming, the rapes and the tortures and yet this is something I know of only two well indirectly, at first, when I was attached to a section of six men who had fought in the Great Wars, five in the second and one in the first and learned how they then viewed their position in life and their mixed reactions to the war experience which was such a contrast to their experience beforehand in Local Government and since.

It seems that Dieter was able to stay in the west despite his Communist background because of his wars service to the allies. They have not had contact for two year during which Dieter has branched out becoming an importer/ exporter. based in Switzerland He is in the UK for a few days and has taken the opportunity to call and they arrange to meet up again for lunch which is in a restaurant in a Park. However when Dieter leave Smiley works out that the man has become Ann’s new lover and was who she was with the previous evening and had returned to her as soon as Smiley had told her he was having to leave early to go off on the new case.

The two men have a difficult time together they meet for a meal stopping only for a drink because of the closeness of their past relationship and that which has developed between Dieter and Ann. I was fascinated by this development because it replicates that between Bill Haydon and Ann in Tinker Tailor and where we know Bill was told to make Ann his mistress in order to distract and destabilise Smiley’s interest in his professional role and also to ensure that if Smiley did question and suspect, their superiors would see this as vengeance. Therefore with the gift of hindsight, as the Karla trilogy was written a decade after the book and ore still since this film. I therefore followed up this interest and discovered that the there is no such relationship in the book and that Ann is involved with someone else and living in Switzerland, I think a Ski instructor or such athletic character. I do think the relationship adds to the film and clearly may have given Le Carré the idea to use again in the Karla Trilogy and regarding Bill Haydon written a decade later.

While Ann would willing ((rather than content because she hates this aspect of her personality, the lust, and the need the addiction which Smiley accept is less dangerous that drugs and drink (how naive everyone was in the pre HIV era)) to continue a physical relationship with Smiley (she wants needs his consent, approval, forgiveness) and the same time as wishing he would rage, beat her, throw her out because of how she behaves and feels unable to love in the way most people love, that is not the thrill and wonder of the first infatuation but the slow burning and developing attachment and commitment over time and see each other as one is, inside and out, Smiley is not.

Smiley feels and behaves as most women experiences as they are usual in his shoes, torn, confused, tortured and full of emotional extremes that sense of powerlessness, hopelessness, despair, loneliness, and love. He therefore takes off and finds a bed in the extraordinary home of Mendel whose main living area is filled with a menagerie of pets in cages, aquarium and other containers and who having retired is spending his nights observing the nocturnal habits of his creatures with the consequence that he falls to sleep whenever he sits down in the warm, something which I also discovered comes with age and the need to rise regularly throughout the night for a comfort stagger to the loo. This duo team is set to begin and last for another decade.

This effectively ends the first part of the film with the second having two strands. The first is the decision to check on Elsa’s statement that she attended a performance at a local theatre on the night of her husband’ death as she did regularly each month. The visit to the theatre provides the opportunity to see a rehearsal of the witches’ scene from Macbeth with Corin Redgrave as the director and Lynne Redgrave (Virgin) as an upper cack handed assistant stage manager dogsbody. What emerges is that she meets at the theatre on a regular basis a European gentlemen. They both bring music instrument cases which they place in the cloak room for the performance.

This discovery leads Smiley to speculate that it is the wife who was the spy and that the husband finding out or guessing what was happening had reported himself in order to gain the attention of the authorities because he could not bear to denounce his own wife directly. This is later confirmed when it is revealed that during the first months of his promotion he took home several highly classified files according to registry records and later these were of no significance and this change led directly to his death.

The second development is that Smiley realises he is being followed on his travels and manages to obtain the registration details and which leads to the ownership of a small time inner London (Battersea) crook played by Roy Kinnear (Adam Scarr is the name of the role) who has a daughter with two mothers who we find drinking with Roy at a well known pub. Scarr initially gives Mendel a Cock and Bull story which the former Inspector beats out the truth after he claims the vehicle was hired by someone a Scotsman with a false address. Mendel loses his temper when he sees the vehicle parked locally and sees an envelope inside with money from Blondie.

The clue which Kinnear then provides is that the man worked for an east European trading company. Kinnear is warned that he is involved in a dangerous situation and at some point in the film he is killed by Blondie. At this point Peter Guillam (Appleby in the film) is involved unofficially, again a feature of the Tinker Tailor getting information from Smiley’s former employers. The three break into the trading company and find it is a shell company with no record of conducting any business. They leave but take cover when they hear the lift coming and then there is a body on its roof and this is of Blondie who from the official Circus records is a foreign agent with diplomatic status thus confirming what they thought about the involvement of the wife rather than the husband.

In the final part of the film they set a trap arising from Smiley making a further visit to Elsa where she show her abilities as an award winning actress. She maintains that her husband was a spy and she his unwilling accomplice because he had rescued and loves her after what she had experienced under the Nazi’s in the camps. It is my understanding that in the book Blondie is Hans Dieter Mundt who is a key figure in The Spy who came in from the Cold written after the Deadly Affair and the book and subsequently film which brought Le Carré to international fame and fortune and which led to his resignation as a member of MI6 and serving also for MI5.

I am not clear at what point Smiley suspects and then know who the alleged controller of Elsa’s husband but he sends Elsa a post card requesting an urgent meeting. Mendel follows her movements which involve catching a coach type bus to Victoria coach station which I knew well from the 1970’s through to this day and which has changed little except for the quality of the transport and which now has the one livery of National Express coaches. Was it a bus station then? Using a car he is able to arrive before her and join the same bus from outside Victoria station to a theatre where Peter Hall is Director of a Royal Shakespeare production of Marlowe’s Edward II. She buys two tickets close to the front of stage which Mendel notes and then purchases two tickets for Smiley and Guillam at the front of the Circle and one for him at the side of the stalls. Before this he has witnessed Elsa post one of the tickets in an envelope with a 4 penny stamp in the London and overseas post box which means the individual is already in London.

Smiley is shocked sick when he realises that the contact who arrives late in the second half of the performance is none other than his friend and trained spy Dieter Frey. There is a brief moment when Mendel places himself outside the theatre to trail one of the two while Guillam attends to Smiley in the washroom that we witness the growing awareness between Elsa and Dieter that they have participated in a trap. They arrive back into the auditorium for the end of play and to witness the collapse and death of Elsa killed by Dieter who escape with the exit crush resulting.

Mendel is able to follow Dieter to the Thames embankment to which Smiley is also called. There Dieter shoots Mendel in the leg and threatens to shoot Smiley who refuses to let him get out of the country to safety. Smiley who had his arm/ wrist in plaster from the attack on him by Blondie use this as a forceful weapon on Dieter who he knocks over the embankment and Dieter (Maximilian Schell) clings for his life by his finger tips. Smiley goes to help his former friend p but the man loses his grip and crushed between the embankment and a craft and disappears below the waterline to Smiley’s distress.

In the final scene Smiley is being accompanied to Heathrow by Peter G as he is about to board a plane to Switzerland where he is to break the news of Dieter’s death and his role to his Anne. He is also on the way to being drunk with a glass of scotch in his hand. Guillam says he is wanted back at Circus but Smiley ignores this and we see him at Swiss airport meeting Anne who recognises that he is drunk before he breaks the news. As in Tinker Tailor, the spy, in this instance Dieter explains that he had been following Fennan to see him with George in the Park. He had then determined to make a play for Anne in order to find out what Smiley was up to.

There is a 90 mins play of the nook in the BBC audio Complete Smiley which continues on my wish list.