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During a future ice age, dying humanity occupies its remaining time by playing a board game called "Quintet." For one small group, this obsession is not enough; they play the game with living pieces ... and only the winner survives.
Joseph Rearden takes the fall for a robbery and winds up in the Scrubs. From there he escapes in the company of a convicted spy and is taken to a remote manor at an unknown location where he is kept isolated. He overpowers his guard and flees, but nothing is quite what it seems in this drama of intrigue as Rearden pursues his quarry from Ireland to Malta. Written by
Martin H. Booda <email@example.com>
A very stylish opening with James Mason as holier and smoother than thou top-politician making a high speech instantly gives a feeling of things not being quite how it seems. And quite rightly so, most things in the story have a feeling of being very cool and calculated. And with Huston's experience it is all handled very well. Compared to Huston's many sanctified classics this film has been seen as more of a minor work of his. But it does have things boiling underneath its cool surface and deserves a deeper look and maybe several viewings. This movie is largely not in-your-face action, but gets parts of the mood and style from earlier movie works and periods. For example the music reminds me of 'The Third Man'. And when action and violence finally occur, it gets surprisingly tense and raw in its effect.
The movie crosses interestingly several genres, like a cold war spy thriller and prison movies. Some of the scenes manage to catch something familiar from early Hitchcock, specially the runaway and chase scene on an Irish moor. The locations in London and Ireland with real local people add much to the realism and fascination of the story. Even the car chases use old beaten up vehicles keeping far away from usual top agent style.
Paul Newman as Joseph Rearden does a strong role but the cool center of the story is Dominique Sanda as an almost emotionless beauty whose appearance covers secrets and surprises. The plot holds up very well all the way to the final moments with some nasty surprises. A film worth seeing for Huston fans and others.
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