In 1905, Polish horse thieves living near the Russian border find their livelihoods threatened by the new Russo-Japanese conflict because the Russian army requisitions all horses and forcibly conscripts all men for the war.
A ruthless pirate captures the keeper of a lighthouse, somewhere in north Argentina. His goal is obvious and horrific. He plans to control the lighthouses signals in a way that the passing ships will be crushed on the rocks.
Vlassov (Yul Brynner) is a Soviet spy. In France, Vlassov defects. He is whisked to the U.S.A., where Allan Davies (Henry Fonda) takes over the case. After polygraph tests and cross-examinations, Vlassov names several Western European agents who are also spying for the Soviets. Davies wants to take the listed agents into custody; meanwhile, those on the list start dying under mysterious circumstances. Written by
Ken Miller <firstname.lastname@example.org>
European co-production with international cast well written, produced and directed by Henry Verneuil
Prototypical Cold War thriller deals about an aging soviet spy named Vlassov (here Yul Brynner plays Russian Colonel Alexei Vlassov , as such, Brynner plays a character of his own nationality ; Brynner's full birth name was Yuli Borisovich Bryner) who attempts to defect the East world . The CIA chief named Allan Davies (Henry Fonda) interrogates him, using polygrapher (interrogator played by Robert Alda), computer programming , and other means . Then Davies must decide if he's saying the truth .
This complex espionage picture is packed with thrills, suspense, tension and extraordinary performances . This movie was made and released about two years after its source French novel "The Thirteenth Who Committed Suicide" by Pierre Nord was first published in 1971 . Good spy movie , in fact the Spy agencies featured in this film include the CIA, KGB, Mi6 and the West German intelligence service . It's a slow moving spy-movie with emphasis on de-glamorizing espionage . Sensational acting by two big star names, Yul Brynner as spy who defects with a fistful of important documents and Henry Fonda as chief who must discover the truth . Strong secondary cast with Dirk Bogarde, Farley Granger, Philippe Noiret, gorgeous Virna Lisi and several others . Interesting and thrilling screenplay by the same producer and director Henry Verneuil . Atmospheric musical composed by Ennio Morricone and conducted by Bruno Nicolai . Superbyly realistic and adequate cinematography by Claude Renoir .
The picture was splendidly directed by Henry Verneuil, a Turkish director working in France from the 40s . Although not a director of great reputation among the critics, his movies have almost all been aimed squarely at the commercial market. Verneuil is an expert on heist-genre such as he proved in ¨The Sicilians clan(68)¨ with Jean Gabin and Alain Delon, ¨The burglars(1971)¨ with Omar Shariff and Jean Paul Belmondo , furthermore on Warlike genre : ¨Weekend at Dunkirk¨ and ¨The 25th hour¨, espionage as ¨ Night flight from Moscow¨ and even directed one Western : ¨Guns of San Sebastian¨ (68). He seemed to have dropped out of the film-making after 1976, but in 1981 unexpectedly reappeared with yet another of his caper film : ¨Thousand millions of dollars¨. Rating : Acceptable and passable, a must see for French cinema lovers and Fonda and Bryner fans
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