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The director, novelist/scriptwriter, and three stars of the previous year's "The Spy Killer" are back with another twisty espionage yarn. This time, intelligence chief Max (Sebastian Cabot) forces ex-agent John Smith (Robert Horton) to go behind the Iron Curtain by threatening to deport his American girlfriend/model (Jill St. John). As with the earlier film, attention must be paid, but the rewards are immense. If you like tough, cynical intelligence thrillers and have the opportunity to see this, don't let it go by.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Foreign Exchange' was the second of two made-for-television films
starring Robert Horton as 'John Smith', ex-spy turned private eye. The
first was 'The Spy Killer'.
A Russian agent has been arrested in London. Actually, he has been working for the British for years, sending false information back to the homeland. Max ( Sebastian Cabot ), head of British Intelligence, wants to send him home to a hero's welcome, where he will be our top man at the heart of the Kremlin. To make his return look convincing, Max asks Smith to allow himself to be arrested by the Russians, so that he can be exchanged in a diplomatic swap. Naturally, a suspicious Smith turns the job down. But when Max threatens to have Smith's girlfriend Mary Harper ( Jill St.John ) deported to America, he agrees to the plan.
Smith is sent behind the Iron Curtain where he is picked up and interrogated by Borensko ( Eric Pohlmann ). But the spy Smith is supposed to be swapped with has died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Smith now faces a bleak future as a prisoner in a Siberian work-camp...
As with 'The Spy Killer', this is a complex yarn with more twists and turns than a corkscrew. It is not the sort of film where you can pop out for a coffee in between shots, it requires concentration. It is worth the effort though, as like its predecessor, it takes a cynical view of the Cold War. Max is such a devious swine you wonder why Smith does not throttle him.
Also in the cast is the late Dudley Foster as 'Leo'. Foster, who committed suicide in 1973, was a talented actor capable of switching effortlessly from comedy roles ( he appeared a few times in 'Steptoe & Son' ) to more dramatic ones, and found time to menace 'John Steed' in 'The Avengers' and Patrick Troughton's 'Dr.Who'. Eric Pohlmann was 'The Fat Man' in 'Carry On Spying' and the ( uncredited ) voice of 'Blofeld' in 'From Russia With Love'.
Things To Look Out For - during the fashion show, on the catwalk is Carol Cleveland, best known for playing the pretty girl roles in 'Monty Python's Flying Circus'.
Hardly any action to speak of, but it does not matter. If you liked 'The Spy Killer', you are bound to like this too.
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