A psychiatrist, desperate for money to keep his faltering practice running, makes a deal with a spy to hide a mysterious person in his clinic in return for a million francs. As soon as the ...
See full summary »
Stanislas Hassler blazes the development of modern art in his gallery, packed with works of surprising shapes, colours and textures, and where exhibitions turn into media events. Gilbert ... See full summary »
Jenny Lamour wants to succeed in music hall. Her husband and accompanist is Maurice Martineau, a nice but jealous guy. When he knew Jenny is making eyes at Brignon, an old businessman, in ... See full summary »
An adaptation of Abbe Prevost's classic French novel 'Manon Lescaut', updated to post-World War II France, in which a former French Resistance activist rescues Manon from villagers who want... See full summary »
Dominique Marceau is on trial for the murder of Gilbert Tellier. The counsels duel relentlessly, elaborating explanations for why the pretty, idle and fickle girl killed the talented and ... See full summary »
In 1900, Miquette, the pretty daughter of the widow Grandier, decides to become an actress after seeing a play performed by the Monchablon theatre company. Unfortunately, Madame Grandier ... See full summary »
Reporter Peter Barter gets murdered while driving to his tv station. Commisioner Kras gets a phone call from clairvoyant Cornelius who saw Barter's death in a vision. But a dark force ... See full summary »
A psychiatrist, desperate for money to keep his faltering practice running, makes a deal with a spy to hide a mysterious person in his clinic in return for a million francs. As soon as the deal is struck his place is overrun by spies from both East and West, all in search of a renegade nuclear scientist. The psychiatrist's own sanity starts to break down as he submitted to unmitigated surveillance and deception. Written by
Wildly Unpredictable Version of The Old "Spy Vs Spy"/"Who Can I Trust?" Plot
Les Espions or "Spies" as it was released here in the US in '58 is both a crazy film and a crazily efficient film. Its one of these movies that somehow manages to work as both a genre spy film AND a parody of the genre spy film at the same time. Oh don't get me wrong--it is NOT a comedy, but again both a straightforward and at times (especially in the second half) circular ride about the various secret agents, double agent spies, and possibly murderous triple agents that suddenly start to wreck havoc on the everyday life of this doctor/manager of a local mental hospital. This poor guy is getting drunk in his local pub one night and rather groggily moaning about how local politics are ruining the lives of his honest poor working countrymen but nobody's got enough common sense to either set the politicians straight or are too corrupt themselves to do anything for anyone else---somehow this is enough for this one other guy there to make the drunk doctor an offer he can't refuse---see he's a secret agent with a secret division and he will pay the good doctor a million dollars to shelter this east German defector who's got some sort of nuclear secret weapon or something that will change the fate of their country, blah, blah, blah but he's got to protect him from everyone who will come after him--the doctor more or less agrees when he sees the million dollars stuffed into his pocket and more or less stops listening, goes home, passes out, and wakes up to find....his staff has been replaced by two henchmen and a very intimidating woman who all insist they're working for the secret agent.
Doctor soon finds patients who all insist they're working for the secret agent, barflies in his favorite bar who all insist they're working for the secret agent, neighboors wandering around the grounds of the hospital who all insist they're working for the secret agent...and well an entire community seemingly made out of nothing but professional "spies" all set on inserting themselves into the life of this good doctor. Before too long the actual German guy himself turns up and who of course will turn out to be...well i'm not going to say.
Who can the poor doctor trust? Nobody but the mute woman who seems to have a rather large crush on our good doctor and the heavily sedated gastric patient who were both there before the night the secret agent made him this million dollar propisition it seems. This doesn't stop hefty, overly friendly, and creepily passive aggressive Russian Peter Ustinov--and a constantly rationalizing and fear mongering older professor from constantly turning up and explaining to the good doctor just what is what and whom is whom, and generally causing confusion. When the German man does turn up and the doctor does do his best to shelter him amidst the serious chaos. (even tho the German man can very much take care of himself--way way better then the well meaning but completely over his head good doctor can) and well things just spiral more and more out of control plot wise from there. Suffice it to say that the three people i just mentioned in addition to the fake receptionist are all serving cross purposes and are constantly leaving red herrings and massive doublespeak in their wake causing the good doctor to have a hard time trying to keep up with what the latest info is that he needs to know.
This is all actually fun for a good hour or so but then the film more or less descends into a little bit of confusion as too many things the various people are telling the good doctor are taken to be the truth or taken to be lies. I realize the fun is supposed to be in figuring out the truth alongside the good doctor but when he eventually does and tries to do everything he can about it---it all starts to seem rather pointless. Also the longer this goes on the more you want to ask yourself exactly why is he still trying to get this all straight again? the money is already in your pocket bro--just take it and run! (which is of course exactly why the first secet agent picked him in the bar back in the beginning) Questions about motivation aside--the ending leaves you with a good nasty jolt, and that queasy expression you see on the good doctor's face will definitely mirror your own as the deeper implications of the doctor's position at the end of the movie sink in. Of course I don't actually know if that will be as true for you as it was for me, i thought it was a really effective ending---but I also really like ironic Twilight Zone style endings in which the hero doesn't exactly get what he wants but sort of achieves his goals even if they're far different then the way he'd imagined it to be. Its not exactly a realistic ending cause i doubt anything in this movie is realistic but i feel like its a smarter ending then most of the espionage movies of this era usually get, its an ending that's actually quite worthy of the best of Hitchcock himself (of whose work this movie truly and seriously resembles) (on a side note this movie also more or less reminds me as a whole of the long forgotten 1980's Donald Sutherland spy caper "The Trouble With Spies" which while played for laughs does in fact echo this plot in several key ways.)
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?