“Everything’s legal in Havana.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
… good use of authentic locations in Cuba:
… and an all-star cast:
… the story never really coheres. As DVD Savant (actually a fan of the film) describes it:
However, Savant later calls out its “authentic background, expressive direction and interesting characters,” and notes that this “politically astute” film “suggests the horrors of Batista’s police state without making any statements about the revolution to come.” Clearly, one either responds to the approach taken here or not — and it didn’t quite work for me. Reading TCM’s article at least helped to explain why Guinness himself comes across in such a bland and uninteresting fashion:
Morrow also seems miscast as Guinness’s daughter (despite only being 20 years old in real life, she looks older), and her casual relationship with creepy Kovacs simply makes her seem like even more of a dimwit.
Meanwhile, O’Hara’s character isn’t given nearly enough distinction (she’s truly just a beautiful “Girl Friday”):
… and other supporting players (Coward, Richardson, Ives) are either vague or underdeveloped. I didn’t mind being confused for most of the beginning of the screenplay, given that spy yarns are inherently complex, and the addition of made-up narratives would necessarily complicate things further — but I wasn’t quite able to follow along as dominos began to fall. Perhaps a rewatch would help, though I’m not especially inclined.
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments: