“There is no force outside this world which gives justice to the weak.”
During the Cold War, a British Home Office employee (Julie Andrews) falls for a Russian attache (Omar Sharif) while vacationing in Barbados, but refuses to become romantically involved. Is Sharif being truthful when he tells her he’s become disillusioned with the Soviet Union — or is Andrews’ superior (Anthony Quayle) correct in assuming he’s recruiting her to be a spy?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Anthony Quayle Films
- Blake Edwards Films
- Cold War
- Julie Andrews Films
- Mistaken or Hidden Identities
- Omar Sharif Films
Julie Andrews cracks nary a smile (and certainly not a song) in this somber but reasonably engaging romantic drama — directed by Blake Edwards, whose screenplay was adapted from a 1971 novel by Evelyn Anthony — about uncertain loyalties and chronic distrust during the Cold War. The production design and cinematography (with fine on-location shooting in Barbados, Paris, and England) are solid, and John Barry’s score adds tension at key moments. Unfortunately, the tentative romance itself takes too long to fully spark; Andrews is right to be skeptical but — oddly — comes across as a bit too reserved and pragmatic.
Much more exciting are behind-the scenes tensions involving a closeted gay diplomat (Dan O’Herlihy) whose wife (Sylvia Syms, giving an emotionally charged performance) discovers evidence of deception; it’s too bad their story isn’t front and center.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Maurice Binder’s creative opening credits
- Fine production design
- Sylvia Syms as Margaret
- Freddie Young’s cinematography
- John Barry’s score
No, but it’s recommended for one-time viewing. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book, which makes sense.