In the Post-World War II, the British Susanne Mallison travels to Berlin to visit her older brother Martin Mallison, a military that has married the German Bettina Mallison. The naive ... See full summary »
Hard up and with a grudge against insurance companies, Rex Black feigns his death and meets up with his wife and the money in Malaga when things seemed to have quietened down. But when the ... See full summary »
A group of conscripts are called up into the infantry during WWII. At first they appear a hopeless bunch but their sergeant and Lieutenant have faith in them and mould them into a good team... See full summary »
Major Jock Sinclair has been in this Highland regiment since he joined as a boy piper. During the Second World War, as Second-in-Command, he was made acting Commanding Officer. Now the ... See full summary »
When a straight-laced British accountant marries a free-spirited American, he starts trying to change her. His wife doesn't keep regular hours, so he suspects an affair and hires a ... See full summary »
Jim Wormold is an expatriate Englishman living in pre-revolutionary Havana with his teenage daughter Milly. He owns a vacuum cleaner shop but isn't very successful so he accepts an offer from Hawthorne of the British Secret Service to recruit a network of agents in Cuba. Wormold hasn't got a clue where to start but when his friend Dr. Hasselbacher suggests that the best secrets are known to no one, he decides to manufacture a list of agents and provides fictional tales for the benefit of his masters in London. He is soon seen as the best agent in the Western Hemisphere but it all begins to unravel when the local police decode his cables and start rounding up his "network" and he learns that he is the target of a group out to kill him. Written by
Sir Alec is, as always, magnetic. Guinness described himself as someone who liked to put on the mask, preferring to live someone else's life in order to keep his own private. Here his character tries to do something like that, with mixed results.
What is it about Guinness that makes it so hard to take our eyes off him? This role is, in a way, a variation on Col. Nicholson: the simple soul who discovers, a little too late, that he has understood nothing. In both cases their innocent acts start a chain of events that comes close to tragedy (but for Hollywood endings), and yet we never think of blaming either character for what they have brought about.
On the contrary, it's hard not to feel that Wormold deserves all of his undeserved good fortune, which appears to come at no cost. And even after Greene's story dispels that illusion, we still feel that his decency ought to count for something, even if his intentions were less than pure.
You can read this movie as an allegory for the common delusion on the part of great powers that they can direct events to their liking. If so, then Guinness has, even without the tacked on ending, subverted it. And even if we know better, it is hard not to cheer for him.
11 of 14 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?