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This is probably Claude Pinoteau's most interesting work,even if he is
known in his native France for his abysmal "la boum" which made Sophie
Marceau a star.
A French scientist ,who was forced to work for the Russians is arrested in England and they ask him to denounce English spies working for the KGB.He knows when he is released that his days are numbered.Lino Ventura gives a restrained effective performance and he gets good support from Suzanne Flon whose part is quite credible .On the other hand ,Lea Massari 's character is almost completely pointless.
Pinoteau was strongly influenced by Hitchcock whose "torn curtain" and above all "the man who knew too much (1956) come to mind.The last sequence ( the concert) directly comes from the latter.
Like in all the good spy thrillers (Ritt's "the man who came from the cold" or Clouzot's "les espions" ) the villains are everywhere,not only in Russia.
Le silencieux can compete as one of the most undervalued movie ever. I saw it when it went out, and many times since. It might not be as things really were (they were probably worse), but it remains a BGS (Bloody Good Story). Ventura, like in most of his films, is impressive. Lea Massari character is not pointless: she is the lost charm, the lost life, the unattainable past (as unattainable as she was in Deville's "La femme en bleu"): she remains a mystery, and it is her function. Without her, the main character would be without nostalgia. Of course, there is the strange dusty colour of French movies of the 70s, not too pleasant. And the set designer of the MI5 office ought to be shot. But apart that, the movie remains tightly knit, in truth one of the best spy thrillers of the 70s.
In "The Silent One", Lino Ventura is a French scientist who was
kidnapped by the Russians 16 years earlier. On a trip to London,
British intelligence snatches him in order to get the names of its own
security leaks. They set him free but the KGB is soon hot on his heels.
The picture is a non-stop thriller as the KGB rapidly finds him no matter where he goes, but there is escape after escape. He makes his way to France quite early on where most of the action occurs.
This picture is on the long side. I think it will hold up on repeated viewings, but it's slightly out of tune and seems in places to miss the mark of really engaging suspense. One music sequence is too obviously derivative of Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much". However, it will stand up overall because the director made an effort to do most things his own way.
Lino Ventura makes this movie well worthwhile. He's terrific as usual.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The espionage film nowadays is much terrific than those of that times. BUt this does not mean the film of that times doesn't worth watching. Many old films, like early James Bond series, North by Northwest,etc. They are very stunning forever, in this film, Haliakov, the scientist is a very unfortunate character, I believe such stories often happen in real life, he is forced by the British intelligence to give the name of the whole team work for Russians. They set him free, but no matter where he goes, the KGB follows immediately. This film is about his escape and their hunt for him. The end, the spy exchange which was often during the cold war, and the reaction of his wife was perfectly forged by the director and writer. A spy epic.
Lino Ventura is a good actor and his gives the pace to this somewhat silly adaptation by Jean-Loup Dabadie of the novel of Francis Ryck. Claude Pinoteau made here his fist movie as a director but he had still to learn. The action scenes are not looking real. The conflict of a spy who does not want to be found by the KGB but at the other hand is kept in custody by MI5 is not handled carefully. You see by teleprinter that the Russians want to kill him but how can they find him so easily? The end of the movie is good and leaves us a surprise. For the new generation who did not know the cold war, this movie will lack authenticity but who knows how many people were in this situation: kept between two fires. MI5 will not say anything once Tibère goes to his beloved France. In France he cannot trust anyone but his brief encounters with some relatives are strange and confuse. Lea Massari steals the end of the movie with her beautiful face looking at the future, because Tibère starts a new life.
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