I Catchﬂre(15)Disowncd by original director Dennis Hopper. this sounds like a right old mishmash, starting as a chase-thriller with Hopper as the hitman sen: after an artist (Jodie Foster) who‘s witnessed a mob killing, then turning all soupy when the two of them fall in love instead. Edinburgh Filmhousc Mon 25—Thurs 28 Feb.
I C’ast La Vle(12)Elegant rites-of-passage tale of two sisters. six and thirteen, whose tranquil summer holiday is disrupted by their parents“ separation. See preview. Edinburgh Filmhousc Sun 3—Sat 16 Mar.
I Pacific Heights(15)Matthcw Modinc and Melanie Griffith star as a young couple renovating their dream home who unfortunately rent part of it to a stranger (Michael Keaton) who turns out to be a landlord‘s nightmare Wide release from Fri Mar 1.
I Postcards From The Edge(15)Meryl Street stars in the screen version of Carrie Fisher‘s autobiographical novel about a Hollywood actress‘ battle with drink and drugs. With Shirley MacLaine. Dennis Quaid See review. Wide release from Fri 22 Feb.
.‘N 3*? Y 1
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Sex, spies and celluloid
Tinker, tailor, soldier . . . foreign diplomat? Will perestroka replace the lengthy food queues with lines of unemployed spies and spy novelists? Alan Morrison examines the file on John Le Carré and the Hollywood production of The Russia House.
Beneath the grey streets of Moscow lie the mosaic walls and ornate chandeliers of the city‘s underground system. Normally the Muscovites hurry home after work. but one night late in 1989 there is a commotion. Word has it that James Bond, the Soviet Union's greatest enemy, is about to board a train. And sure enough. there is the man himself: a little greyer, a little shabbier, but still recognisable minus the dinner suit and Walther PPK. The spirit ofglasnost has brought Sean Connery to Russia. with love.
Connery is in Moscow to work on Fred Schepisi‘s film of The Russia House, based on the bestseller by Britain‘s premier spy novelist John le Carré. It is the first Hollywood film to be made on location in Moscow and Leningrad that is not a co-production with the Soviets. Here is proof— in cinematic terms at least — that, despite the recent clampdown in the Baltic, the words of Mikhail Gorbachev can become action. The film gives a less cynical view of a world where the Cold War has
thawed, the Iron Curtain has lifted, and the Reds are no longer under the beds. They’re with us between the sheets.
While Le Carre‘s novel could be described as a spy story with a romantic core, the film is very much a love story with the trappings of espionage. Drunken, loose-living publisher Barley Blair (Connery) finds himselfthe pawn in a British-American operation to discover the authenticity ofa manuscript that would effectively end the arms race. His Russian contact is Katya (Michelle Pfeiffer), whose combined beauty and bravery force him to question whether his loyalties lie with the individual or with the men in grey suits.
Connery‘s character is a world away from the sexual athlete superspy who brought him fame and fortune. and is closer to the dowdy and unglamorous school ofspies that has peopled British spy fiction since the late 1950s. George Smiley. the recurrent hero of Le Carré's works and Len Deighton‘s anti-hero Bernard Samson are as ineffectual in their personal lives as they are effective as spies.
The difference now is that Barley Blair gets the girl and lives happily ever after in a post-glasnost fairy tale. Until now the cinema had often used frustrated love as a symbol of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall was itself the physical object that stopped
. I; as."
Richard Burton from riding offinto the sunset with Claire Bloom in 1965‘s The Spy Who Came In F mm The Cold. In 1991, however, Martin Ritt's bleak and wintry black and white world has been replaced with the colour and splendour of The
Both films are based on Le Carre. whose prose is a thermometer measuring the freeze and thaw ofthe Cold War. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold was his third book. the one which threw him into the spotlight. It was written only months after the Berlin Wall was built. bringing bricks-and-mortar reality to the metaphorical Iron Curtain. Ten years later came what is probably his best known book, Tinker, Tailor. Soldier. Spy. Capitalising on the implications of Kim Philby‘s defection. it shows the spy world as a series of inward-looking games for public schoolboys. It is essentially a whodunnit. as we watch Smiley untie a large and very complex knot. thread by thread.
Recent developments in world affairs have had a necessary effect on the credibility ofthe traditional spy. American author Tom Clancy has already moved his characters away from the Kremlin and into Central America: but then so have the CIA. And no doubt he and a thousand others are at work on espionage plots set in the Middle East. It was an adaptation of Clancy‘s novel The Hun! For Red October that provided what many thought would be the swansong of the Cold War film. A
twisting tale of the defection of a 3
Russian submarine commander. it starred — you‘ve guessed it — Sean 3 Connery. No wonder his superiors in i The Russia House are unsure which side he is on. i The Russia House is released a! Cannons and U Cls on Friday 22 February.
15 The List 22 February - 7 March 1991