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 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 »
In reviewing this movie, I have to admit my personal bias as a Canadian living in Ottawa where the movie was shot. I had seen it many years ago and liked it so I was excited when it was shown on TCM on Easter eve. I had forgotten many of the scenes, although I know the story well. I appreciated the crisp cutaway shots of Ottawa with Gothic public buildings and brick houses shown against the stark winter backgrounds. I also liked the way the movie was shot in darkness and shadows evoking the Cold War atmosphere. Director Wm. Wellman got the details correct with his script and the visual references to Ottawa landmarks. The Justice Building is the actual Confederation Building still used by the Dept.of Justice. The railway shown running along the Rideau Canal is no longer there but that was the location used by trains in and out of Union Station in downtown Ottawa. The actual apartment where Gouzenko lived is shown. It still stands along with the park across the street where there is signage indicating the historical significance of the site nearby. We also see Somerset St. with a streetcar passing the building where he resided. The Parliament Buildings, the Château Laurier and the National Research Council are all shown and all were pivotal locations for the story. There is a reference to the child of Igor and Anna Gouzenko born at St. Vincent's Hospital, which still stands in the neighbourhood where Gouzenko lived. I like the documentary style also used effectively in other films from that era, such as The House on 92nd Street, Naked City and the Wrong Man. The film noir look is typical of the era and suits the espionage story. Where the movie falls short, however, is in the characters of Igor and Anna Gouzenko as performed by Dana Andrews and Jean Tierney. I can certainly respect the choice of two accomplished actors for the roles; however, these Hollywood icons are a stretch for the Russian couple in the story, especially for a movie that pays such close attention to other details. Nevertheless, I can see that two acting stars would attract attention to the movie and the story. For example, a Cold War museum outside Ottawa, built as a bunker for government leaders in the 1950's, features photos from the movie to highlight the story. As someone with a passion for Canadian history and movies, I have great affection for The Iron Curtain. I was very grateful for TCM bringing this little known movie to its viewers.
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