The story of Soviet cypher-clerk Igor Gouzenko who was posted to the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa,Canada in 1943 and defected in 1945 to reveal the extent of Soviet espionage activities directed against Canada.
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Soviet soldier turned bureaucrat Igor Gouzenko is assigned to his first overseas posting in 1943 to Ottawa, Canada, as a cipher clerk for the military attaché, their offices in a secret wing of the Soviet embassy. Igor is not to tell anyone what he does for a living, he given a cover story which he is to recite even when questioned by his own people. He and his wife Anna Gouzenko are supposed to be cordial to their Canadian neighbors and associates, but not fraternize or befriend them, as they are still considered the enemy, despite both countries being on the same side in the war. Igor follows his instructions to a T, but it is more difficult for Anna, who does not have the distraction of work during the day, and who can see that their neighbors are not their enemies but good people much like themselves. Over the next few years, Igor sees that what is happening around him and the work in which he is involved will not result in a world in which he wants to raise his newborn son, ... Written by
The music in the film became the subject of a minor but telling episode in the Cold War. Alfred Newman, the illustrious head of the 20th Century-Fox music department, scored this picture. It's not readily known who decided to incorporate genuine Soviet music into the film, but Newman's score featured compositions by the USSR's finest: Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Prokofiev, Aram Khachaturyan and Dominik Miskovský. All four composers signed (or were ordered to sign) a letter of protest that claimed their music was appropriated via a "swindle" in order to accompany this "outrageous picture". No individuals were named, except "the agents of the American Twentieth Century-Fox Corporation". None of the composers would have had the opportunity to have seen the movie, thus it is to be assumed that they were put up to this protestation by the Stalin regime. Interestingly, the four "protesting" Soviet composers were at that same time under severe scrutiny themselves for composing music that was construed as subversive to the Soviet state, and for a time their heads were on the chopping block. So it's also to be assumed that the four filed this protest as a gesture of their loyalty to Joseph Stalin (or, more likely, to save themselves from being executed). In any case, these composers were often obliged to make "statements" that they personally had nothing to do with. Coincidentally, Hollywood at this same time was beginning to be scrutinized by the House Un-American Activities Committee for signs of "subversion" of the American state, resulting its its own blacklist. See Slonimsky, Nicolas "Music Since 1900" 5th Ed. p.1066-7 See more »
The invitation shown from the "Associated Friends of Soviet Russia" requests the "honor" of the recipient's company, and later a newspaper headline reads, "Rumor M.P. To Be Arrested In Spy Probe". As the film takes place in Canada, where British spellings are used, the words should have been spelled "honour" and "rumour". See more »
Fascinating true spy story, the Gouzenko Defection
The defection of Igor Gouzenko from the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, in 1946, was one of the most electrifying events of the Cold War. The documents and information which he brought with him, gained from his work as a top-secret cipher clerk, resulted in the destruction of the main Soviet spy ring in Canada, which included a Member of Parliament and a nuclear scientist who was working on the atomic bomb. This film, with all the locations shot in Ottawa, and its details drawn from the official reports of a Royal Commission, is a fascinating depiction of the true story of Gouzenko from the moment of his arrival in Canada, his first time outside the Soviet Union, till his defection with his wife and child. William Wellmann directed the film in a low-key style, with some documentary linking narration from time to time. Dana Andrews was never so subdued and soft-spoken as Gouzenko in this film, and Gene Tierney is remarkably self-effacing as the devoted wife and mother of an infant. She has no particularly interesting scenes. The really powerful performances in this film are by Berry Kroeger, in his first film appearance, as an insidious, swaggering and menacing mastermind of a Soviet espionage ring, and Eduard Franz as a Soviet major who 'just cannot take it any more' and turns into a drunk. The film is tense and gripping, and follows closely the real life events of this notorious story. June Havoc is effective in a minor role as the resident Soviet honeypot who tests the new staff with alcohol and seduction to see if they are indiscreet. The world inside the Soviet Embassy is convincingly and eerily depicted, a demi-monde and a half-life of people serving Stalin and the Party like grim automatons with dark faces and all humanity stripped out of them. This film gives a nice lesson in the realities of sordid power, and the hollowness of institutionalised betrayal. There are none so low as those who slither.
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