“Then I may take it that his suicide — and of course his letter — came as a complete surprise to you?”
When British agent Charles Dobbs (James Mason) and Inspector Mendel (Harry Andrews) investigate the murder of an ex-Communist government official, they suspect that the victim’s wife (Simone Signoret) may know more than she’s revealing. Meanwhile, Dobbs has troubles of his own at home, when he discovers that his nymphomaniac wife (Harriet Andersson) has had an affair with a colleague (Maximilian Schell).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Cold War
- Detectives and Private Eyes
- Harry Andrews Films
- James Mason Films
- Lynn Redgrave Films
- Marital Problems
- Maximilian Schell Films
- Murder Mystery
- Sidney Lumet Films
- Simone Signoret Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
The performances by Mason, Andrews, and Signoret are wonderful in this otherwise dreary, character-driven spy flick, based on the novel by John le Carre. Peary lauds the film as “gripping” and “expertly directed”, but I find it unduly depressing — primarily due to the distracting subplot about Mason’s marital difficulties.
On the other hand, Mason’s interactions with Andersson posit him as more complex and human, thus allowing him to display a wider range of emotions — indeed, as Peary notes, the film is notable for presenting a realistic contrast to the suave, romantic existence of James Bond; being a spy doesn’t come across as particularly appealing, glamorous, or romantically satisfying.
- James Mason as Dobbs (Peary nominates Mason’s performance as one of the best of the year in his Alternate Oscars)
- Harry Andrews as Inspector Mendel
- Simone Signoret as the murdered official’s wife
- Effective use of gloomy London locales
Yes, for the fine performances.
- Noteworthy Performance(s)