7.3/10
3,868
52 user 38 critic

Our Man in Havana (1959)

Jim Wormold, who is a vacuum cleaner salesman, participates as an agent in the British Secret Service. But he soon realizes that his plans by lying are going to get him into trouble.

Director:

Writer:

(novel)
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An altruistic chemist invents a fabric which resists wear and stain as a boon to humanity, but both big business and labor realize it must be suppressed for economic reasons.

Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Stars: Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker
Drama | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A butler working in a foreign embassy in London falls under suspicion when his wife accidentally falls to her death, the only witness being an impressionable young boy.

Director: Carol Reed
Stars: Ralph Richardson, Michèle Morgan, Sonia Dresdel
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

A meek bank clerk who oversees the shipment of bullion joins with an eccentric neighbor to steal gold bars and smuggle them out of the country as miniature Eiffel Towers.

Director: Charles Crichton
Stars: Alec Guinness, Stanley Holloway, Sidney James
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The bigamist captain of a ferry boat between the restricted British colony in Gibraltar and Spanish Morocco has a woman of differing appeal and temperament in each port.

Director: Anthony Kimmins
Stars: Alec Guinness, Yvonne De Carlo, Celia Johnson
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

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 »

Director: Ronald Neame
Stars: Alec Guinness, John Mills, Susannah York
Odd Man Out (1947)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A wounded Irish nationalist leader attempts to evade police following a failed robbery in Belfast.

Director: Carol Reed
Stars: James Mason, Robert Newton, Cyril Cusack
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A somewhat vulgar but dedicated painter searches for the perfect realization of his artistic vision, much to the chagrin of others.

Director: Ronald Neame
Stars: Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Renee Houston
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Five diverse oddball criminal types planning a bank robbery rent rooms on a cul-de-sac from an octogenarian widow under the pretext that they are classical musicians.

Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Stars: Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Cecil Parker
The Key (1958)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

During WW2, successive tug boat British captains sent on dangerous salvage missions pass-on the key to a home-port apartment where a lonely Swiss-Italian young war-widow lives.

Director: Carol Reed
Stars: William Holden, Sophia Loren, Trevor Howard
The Comedians (1967)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A cynical Welsh hotel owner secretly romances a diplomat's wife in Haiti under the violent reign of the despot "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

Director: Peter Glenville
Stars: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Alec Guinness
Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

When Germany invades Czechoslovakia, the German and the British intelligence services try to capture Czech scientist Axel Bomasch, inventor of a new type of armor-plating.

Director: Carol Reed
Stars: Margaret Lockwood, Rex Harrison, Paul Henreid
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
'C'
...
...
Cifuentes (as Gregoire Aslan)
...
Hubert Carter
...
General
...
Prof. Sanchez
Maurice Denham ...
Admiral
Joseph P. Mawra ...
Lopez (as Jose Prieto)
...
MacDougal
Gerik Schjelderup ...
Svenson
Edit

Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A murderously funny story, magnificently cast....marvelously made !


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 February 1960 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Nuestro hombre en La Habana  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Fidel Castro complained that Graham Greene's novel did not accurately show the harsh brutality of the regime of Fulgencio Batista, which Castro had just overthrown.. See more »

Goofs

During the checkers/drinking game, when Capt. Segura removes his gun belt and hangs it on the back of his peacock chair, the holster's retaining strap is fastened over the pistol's hammer. In later shots, it moves to under the grip safety, and then when Wormold removes the Colt from its holster, the strap is already unfastened completely. See more »

Quotes

Capt. Segura: Some people expect to be tortured, others are outraged by it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hersenschimmen (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

LA BELLA CUBANA
(uncredited)
(traditional Cuban melody)
Composed by Jose White Lafitte (1853)
used as love theme in the opening credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Games With Agent 59200/5
22 March 2013 | by See all my reviews

Comedy and espionage make uneasy bedfellows in this Alec Guinness vehicle. Viewers should expect more of a morality play than a gleeful farce.

Guinness frequently played characters leading double lives. Here we see his character Wormold tripped up by one that may cost him his life. Wormold is a vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana who is approached by a fellow named Hawthorne (Noel Coward), alias Agent 59200, who wants Wormold to serve the British Secret Service "for $150 a month and expenses" as his subagent, 59200/5, collecting secret information regarding pre-Castro Cuba.

Encouragement for this comes not only indirectly from his love for his spendthrift daughter Milly (Jo Morrow) but more directly from his best friend, a castoff German doctor named Hasselbacker (Burl Ives), whose advice forms the heart of the message from screenwriter Graham Greene, adapting his own novel:

"That sort of information is always easy to give. If it is secret enough, you alone know it. All you need is a little imagination...As long as you invent, you do no harm. And they don't deserve the truth."

The joke, which is also the story's tragedy, is Wormold invents too well, convincing not only his London paymasters but the opposition of his fiction's veracity. Director Carol Reed famously made a spy film, "The Third Man," which blended tragedy and comedy in equal measure. This time, the comedy is more front-and-center, but efforts at creating a light tone conflict with the more serious message and various characters' fates. "Our Man In Havana" struggles at times with what kind of film it wants to be.

Perhaps Guinness's own difficulty with his part contributes to this confusion. He reportedly found Reed's instruction ("Don't act!") unhelpful. Ives is especially heavy for the film's most delicate part, making it oppressively sad; I wish that Reed's collaborator Orson Welles could have taken this part and invested it with some of his trademark cunning and craft.

Much of "Our Man In Havana" does work, and well. Oswald Morris's cinematography employs actual Havana locations to great effect, using unusually angled shots of the crumbling, sun-drenched city. You feel the tension of Wormold's world in every scene. Ernie Kovacs, a hero of early TV comedy, gets a lot out of a thanklessly straight part, the menacing but sensitive Segura, who lusts for Milly and explains his position with real sensitivity even though he never loses the cruelty of the character.

"Do you play checkers, Mr. Wormold?" he asks.

"Not very well," answers Wormold.

"In checkers, one must move more carefully than you have tonight."

Wormold isn't kidding; he only knows enough to lose. In a world this topsy-turvy, it proves the right approach.

Coward does much to serve the comedy, which would be almost entirely absent without him. His recruitment of Wormold, which is played like a seedy homosexual liaison in bars and men's rooms, is a riot when one knows not only Coward's own legendary proclivities but his friendship with that master of spy fiction, Ian Fleming. Some of the film is even set in Fleming's own Jamaican stomping grounds; one can imagine the creator of James Bond must have enjoyed this send-up of his work before it was a gleam in Albert Broccoli's eye.

"Our Man In Havana" plays with your mind and conscience for an hour and a half. It capably establishes a dark mood with cheerful undertones though it would have worked better vice versa, which was my takeaway from reading the novel. Anyway, it's intelligent, entertaining, and worth a look.


5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 52 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page