EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|DEADLY AFFAIR, THE (director: Sidney Lumet; screenwriters: Paul Dehn/based on the novel Call for the Dead by John Le Carre; cinematographer: Freddie Young; editor: Thelma Connell; music: Quincy Jones; cast: James Mason (Charles Dobbs), Simone Signoret (Elsa Fennan), Maximilian Schell (Dieter Freey), Harriet Andersson (Ann Dobbs), Harry Andrews (Inspector Mendel), Kenneth Haigh (Bill Appleby), Roy Kinnear (Adam Scarr), Max Adrian (adviser), Lynn Redgrave (virgin), Robert Flemyng (Samuel Fennan), Corin Redgrave (Director), Les White (Karel Harek aka Blondie); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sidney Lumet; Columbia Pictures; 1966-UK)|
|"Top-notch spy thriller for the
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Top-notch spy thriller for the thinking man. Adapted by writer Paul Dehn from the 1961 novel Call
for the Dead
by John Le Carré. Director Sidney Lumet ("The
Wiz"/"Network"/"The Morning After")
is in fine form skillfully handling the action, intriguing plot
developments and development of character. Le
Carré's web of intrigue and betrayal is in good hands in this
Samuel Fennan (Robert Flemyng) is interviewed in the London park by Home
Office investigator Charles
Dobbs (James Mason) following his promotion in the Foreign
Office, that calls for top security clearance. the interview is
prompted by an anonymous letter that reports Fennan as a Communist spy.
Fennan admits he joined the party during his student days at Oxford and
impresses Dobbs with his guileless nature, who is moved to grant him a
security clearance because he poses no threat. That night Fennan shoots
himself and leaves a suicide note, which puzzles Dobbs since the
interview seemingly went well on both sides. Dobbs's pompous boss (Max
Adrian) is certain it's a suicide, and arranges for Dobbs to interview
Fennan's widow, a Jewish concentration camp survivor, Elsa (Simone Signoret), and to have the Jewish retired
policeman, Inspector Mendel (Harry Andrews), act as liason with the widow. When Dobbs
smells something fishy about the suicide and his snippy boss insists he
drops the investigation, Dobbs quits in disgust and investigates on his
own--getting help on the secret from one of his disgruntled Home Office
colleagues Bill Appleby (Kenneth
and from the dogged facts only investigator Mendel.
The investigation leads to
finding out things more deceptive than first thought, as a
sophisticated spy ring is uncovered passing state secrets. Dobbs also
learns that his nympho wife Ann (Harriet
Andersson), whom he has
forgiven for her past affairs, has embarked on a new affair with the handsome younger spy Dieter Freey (Maximilian Schell). He's a Communist Dobbs
mentored when they were allies during the war, and have remained
friends though not seeing each other for the last two years.
Adding to the joys of the
pic, is getting a look at snippets of the Christopher Marlowe play Edward II performed in the film by
the Royal Shakespeare Company under the direction of Sir Peter Hall.
Mason as the vulnerable morally compromised spy is superb in his starring role, while it's always a treat to watch Harry Andrews, Harriet Andersson, Maximilian Schell and Simone Signoret. The Cold War spy thriller is finely photographed to look atmospherically gloomy by British cinematographer Freddie Young ("Lawrence of Arabia"). It's a refreshing spy chiller that doesn't try to break new ground in its genre, but to only be efficiently presented.
REVIEWED ON 5/19/2011 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ