The Tamarind Seed (1974) Poster

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Mature, sober look at human side of the Cold War
trpdean10 October 2002
I liked this one very much. Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif bring a very sober and realistic screenplay to life about real human beings involved/kept apart by the Cold War. I very much liked the Julie Andrews character who doesn't fear speaking about morality to a Communist likely to scoff, nor fear falling for that Communist with ehr eyes wide open, despite all the difficulties that would bring. Julie Andrews is just wonderful in this role - rather lonely, quite real, with warring feelings between head and heart about caring for someone who is dangerous to know - and in his work, dangerous to the Free World.

Omar Sharif is excellent - charming, quick-witted, falling for Andrews (and who wouldn't - she looks fantastic) despite himself, and finally making the life-changing decision to defect.

I can understand why some find the movie plodding - it certainly is by most spy movie standards. But it's trying to do something different - and admirably succeeding - one just feels the existence of the Iron Curtain here, and one feels the Andrews character making her point that at the heart of the Cold War are questions about the value to be given an individual human being by the state, the value of truth as capturing measurable facts, the value of allowing people to live by their own goals and values rather than those determined by the state.

And the over-arching question is an interesting one of emotional involvement despite world tensions.

You'll like its gradual unfolding - just don't look for James Bond.
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UNDERRATED SPY FILM, QUITE GOOD
Lana Falana17 May 2001
Blake Edwards' "The Tamarind Seed" falls into the "lost" category, more specifically the era spanning 1968-1974, when Edwards released a series of films, ranging from good to great, that died a bloody box-office death. That doesn't mean that any of these films were bad. You can't account for audience taste.

Anyway, "The Tamarind Seed" is a different film for Edwards: an international spy thriller. I think the reason for the film not being well received by the public was that Edwards was stereotyped as a comedy director. Indeed, many of his best films ("10", "S.O.B.", "Victor/Victoria", and "The Pink Panther Strikes Again") are in this genre. But during this period, Edwards made many fine straight films such as "Experiment in Terror", "Darling Lili", "Wild Rovers", "The Carey Treatment" and "Gunn". These films are lost today, thanks to clueless studio executives who didn't know how to market them and the clueless moviegoers who stayed away in droves.

Lucky for us, cable TV still remains the forum to catch some of these lost treasures (except "Gunn" which seems lost forever) and AMC has been playing "The Tamarind Seed" frequently. Early video copies distributed by Magnetic Video and Embassy Home Entertainment still exist in used video stores around the country.

Now, about the film itself. Edwards has crafted a pretty skillful thriller here. Spy movies often die a quick death because most directors think they have to be either T&A fests or relentlessly talky. What makes the Bond films so much fun is that there's a sly sense of humor and Edwards understands that. But Edwards maintains a smooth control over his material here and doesn't play this material for monster laughs (rightly).This is a real good story, which I will not reveal, because the film's success is dependent on Edwards' surprises. The acting is great (with Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif in the lead roles, how could it be bad?), the cinematography (by the great Freddie Young in Panavision)is dazzling as it would be from that great talent, and the script gets involved enough in the story that we can follow it without getting confused.

"The Tamarind Seed" is very much worth the effort to find. Once you see it, it will be hard to forget it.

**** out of 4 stars
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9/10
Sophisticated and beautiful Cold War romantic thriller
roghache21 March 2006
It's been years since I saw this film so have forgotten many of the plot details, but this beautiful romance has lingered in my mind for three decades. It's a movie with everything...intriguing suspense thriller plot, beautiful exotic Caribbean setting, and especially of course the compelling love story of two sympathetic characters from opposite sides of the Cold War.

The tale begins with a British Home Office assistant, Judith Farrow, who has gone to Barbados to recover from a failed love affair. During her tropical holiday, she meets Feodore Sverdlov, a handsome Soviet air attaché in Paris. They visit the colorful island sights together and fall in love. This paradise romance is, however, complicated by their respective positions with governments on opposite sides of the Cold War. Thus, these two individuals of integrity are forced into deception (alleged spy recruiting) in order to disguise their relationship. Perhaps Sverdlov will even be inspired toward defection? Above all, their ill advised love can only spell danger.

For me, this movie is made memorable by its two stars, Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif. This is my absolute favorite Julie Andrews film. She is at her most radiant here portraying Judith, a beautiful, intelligent, lonely, vulnerable, yet quietly strong woman. She is quite magnificent in her role even without the usual musical aspects. Omar Sharif plays surely Russia's most magnetic, handsome, and compelling diplomat. His dark brown eyes alone would thaw the Cold War! It is absolutely believable that these two principled, intelligent individuals would fall in love. They are perfect on screen together, mature yet captivating.

The film reflects its era, with the dominance of Cold War issues the subject for most plots involving international intrigue. Here, however, the Russian star is refreshingly not the enemy or the villain of the piece, but rather instead its romantic, noble, and conflicted hero. The pair reveal their own moral views, sometimes contrary to their country's official positions. Julie Andrews appeared earlier in Torn Curtain, the 1966 Hitchcock Cold War thriller which also starred Paul Newman, but I much preferred this movie since it focuses more on character portrayal and romance.

No, not a James Bond action adventure or a spy thriller really, more rather an exotic and dangerous romance with some intricate, suspenseful plot details. A high recommendation for this wonderful old fashioned movie...a perfectly cast, touching & intelligent jewel, and a film which unfortunately appears to be little known these days.
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Good Old-Fashioned Fun
Eric-6220 April 1999
"The Tamarind Seed" is a wonderful film to discover for the first time in the video store when you're searching for something good to watch. Made at a time when negative depictions of the Soviet Union had fallen out of favor in the movies, "The Tamarind Seed" wonderfully bucks this trend as Russian embassy Colonel Omar Sharif ultimately comes to realize that the nature of the Soviet system makes some things worse than treason against it. Julie Andrews is at her most beautiful as a British Home Office employee who first meets Sharif on vacation in Barbados, falls in love with him and helps him defect.
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9/10
This one has it all.
pedernalesl16 August 2005
This movie is not highlighted in any discussion of the careers of either Julie Andrews or Omar Sharif, but it's a jewel. It has romance (the subtleness of which is very effective without constant bedroom scenes), intrigue, espionage, exotic locations, a multi-layered plot and plenty of suspense. You do have to pay close attention to keep up with the rather complicated story, but it pays off. The '70's clothing and hair styles are amusing, and the Russians are no longer the "bad guys," but those facts don't detract from the great storyline. Andrews and Sharif make a very attractive couple, and play their parts perfectly. In fact, everyone turns in a fine performance in this, one of my favorite movies.
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Biggest Hit
groscin12 August 2004
Worked as a Doorman at The Rivoli Cinema in Sydney in 1974. Lovely conversion from an intimate live venue, but unfortunately, never found an audience. Fond memories of "The Tamarind Seed" as the most successful movie to play at this lovely theatre. Originally played on the Hoyt's circuit at the Embassy Theatre, and transferred to our (Independant) Rivoli (capacity approx. 400 seats)for a very healthy 6 week season. The only movie I recall playing to capacity audiences of a Friday & Saturday evening. Recently acquired a (beautiful) copy on DVD at a truly bargain price, and was pleased that the suspense and story-line held up so well after 30 years. Yes, the fashions are laughable, but we make allowances for our favourite films of the 30's,40's,50's and 60's, so why do we judge so many classic films of the 70's & 80's by the fashions of the time A thoroughly enjoyable espionage thriller, a brilliant cast, and all under the direction of the superb Blake Edwards, begs the question as to why this film is so over-looked and forgotten?
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10/10
A wonderful romantic spy film that should be re-released!
LeaBowie12 February 2001
I saw this movie while I lived in Spain in 1974. It was subtitled or maybe dubbed, I don't remember but since I speak Spanish, it didn't matter. I loved the movie. At the time, Spain was still under Franco's rule (he died in '75) and foreign (as well as domestic)films were heavily censored. But this movie wasn't (or didn't seem to be) and I never forgot it. I have an extensive video collection and have searched for this movie far and wide and am happy to see that I finally found a private seller through Amazon.com today. I will treasure it and can't wait to see it again after 27 years! Besides, Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif were romantic and wonderful. A great "old" movie.
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9/10
Under-rated, but excellent romantic thriller
melissa_kf10 January 2004
Saw this film only recently, and was surprised by its complexity. Was enthralled. Julie Andrews plays a very upright British type involved in situations that are inevitably comprimising. It is a pleasure to watch this very romantic thriller.
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7/10
surprisingly good
emisue0230 March 2003
I'm a huge Julie Andrews fan, which was why I saw this movie. I now understand spy storylines much better than I did when I watched it, so if I saw it again, I may be able to actually follow the plot. It does drag, which is always a pet pieve of mine, but the romance between Julie and Omar Sharrif is the heart of the film and lets you see that the Cold War was between governments, not necessarily people. The ending makes up for almost everything else, as most good endings tend to do, and it was just what the characters and audience wanted. If you want a lot of action, this may not be the right movie, but if you want a romance masquerading as a spy thriller, this is your film.
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Wonderful John Barry Soundtrack
amasse23 October 2003
Wish the soundtrack were available on CD, also wish the movie were available on DVD. Not a big Sharif fan, but I have always enjoyed this movie. Really enjoy Anthony Quayle and Julie Andrews is very entertaining.
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7/10
Slow but involving.
fletch58 September 2002
"The Tamarind Seed" is sometimes classified as a spy thriller, however it doesn't really belong to that category. This is essentially a romance, make no mistake about that.

Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif are very good in this film and make a highly believable screen couple. The pacing is slow and deliberate, but the plot should be intricate enough to keep you interested. I kept waiting for Andrews to burst out singing, but that never happened.

Anthony Quayle and Sylvia Syms are excellent in supporting roles.

Overall, "The Tamarind Seed" is a good movie for a Sunday afternoon.
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3/10
Frigid drama of Cold War romance = icy bore
moonspinner5525 July 2004
It's nice to see Julie Andrews trying a straight dramatic role here--something she hadn't done in awhile--but her character of Judith (wise they didn't try to pass her off as a 'Judy') has the old refined manners and tomboyish hairstyle of yore, and Andrews enacts 'grown-up' as any other actress would interpret frigid. Surprisingly bland, unmemorable drama set in Barbados involves shady Omar Sharif (not the liveliest leading man around, not even in 1974!) hoping to make Andrews a spy while also slowly leading her into the proverbial bedroom. Woeful outing does have some camp value: the James Bond-like credits at the beginning are a cheesy hoot. As for Julie, she's quiet and contemplative, but that doesn't do much for the audience--or for the film. Director Blake Edwards paces the whole drab thing like a funeral. *1/2 from ****
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8/10
Romance revisited
jacqueestorozynski1 December 2014
I really liked this movie when it first came out and now having decided to watch it again all these years later I was ready to be disappointed. However, although it is definitely a film of its time with the cold war and reds in the bed the relationship between the two leads, Julie Andrews and Omar Shariff was totally believable. I suppose by today's standards Omar is a bit too much of a charmer but it works. Another surprise was to see Sylvia Sims as she used to be and not how she is now playing bag lady parts or the queen mum. It was also nice to see Bryan Marshall again who was once a stalwart of TV and film and seems to have disappeared back to Australia. There is a charm about the film probably because there is a chemistry between Julie and Omar. It is strange when you see the leading lady trotting around in blouses and smart pressed trousers looking very much the secretary. Especially as it was around the same time as the Bond movies and the women are usually half dressed although Julie does sit reading a book in a bikini. Definitely worth watching again.
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Sophisticated cold war romantic thriller
fordbeebe9 June 2013
I watched this as a reissue around 1978 and then a few more times on television in the early 80's. I watched it again yesterday and found it to be as good as I remember it if not better. The plot open with Julie Andrews who works in a sensitive job at the Foreign office on holiday in Barbados trying to recover from the death of her husband and a subsequent love affair with a married embassy employee. During the holiday she is romanced by a Russian working at the Russian embassy in France thereby raising suspicion that the russians are trying to recruit her. The romance and spy elements are played against a background of various love affairs and relationships which all tie up nicely in one plot strand at the end. Andews may be a few years too old for the part but her acting and that of the mostly British cast is uniformly excellent, with as often happens Quayle excelling, with only Sharif's performance occasionally appearing perfunctory. Excellent script and dialogue and a brilliant John Barry score make the film linger in the memory.. The film's ideology is in the right place ( pun intended) with the script being subtly, intelligently but unmistakeably anti communist, a unique ideological stand in the leftist seventies.
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10/10
A real treat for Omar admirers!
annie_robb2 August 2003
One of my favourite Omar films....(then again, they are all my favourites, I'm very biased)...I wouldn't see the film for years as I couldn't imagine my Omar with Mary Poppins...a friend one day brought around the video and said 'watch it!'...I loved it...their convincing onscreen connection soon made me forget the Mary Poppins/Maria image and although still playing the squeaky clean innocent (as only Julie can), there was a lovely chemistry. I won't go into the plot as it's well described in many of the other reviews. My only criticism is the wardrobe...I know the seventies were bad but that white gown with the heavy necklace was hideous as were the prim and proper crisp polyester clothes they put Andrews in back in London....she's gorgeous and they could have done a lot more with her outfits...they could have lost Omar's peach shirt as well (but then again he tends to make anything look good!)...maybe the seventies were that bad...but I loved them and you should love this film.
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4/10
The seed grew a giant weed.
mark.waltz20 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
After a few flop movies and a short lived TV series, Julie Andrews needed a hit, and sadly did not get it with this spy drama, pretty much motionless and humorless. She's paired with the handsome Omar Sharif, playing a Russian litigation out to seduce her on order to recruit her. But for what? To get information from her since she works for an important British political figure, or perhaps to help him defect, or even perhaps he really loves her. In the hands of comedy master Blake Edwards, this turns out to be a convoluted mess.

Sympathy is there for Julie, having tried but failed to save both "Star!" and "Darling Lily" where even with good notices, she couldn't escape critically dismissed weak films. This one came and went so quickly, it's not a notorious flop, just another beautifully filmed on exotic locations, rushed out, giving superstars a great vacation in addition to work. Julie seems out of her element here, too ladylike to be taken in by a dashing but dangerous man. Sharif, indeed, is charming and sexy, believable as a Russian, yet it's difficult to trust his motives especially after his character proclaims a loyalty to communism, a contempt for democracy and dismisses anything spiritual.

There's so much talk about each form of governmental beliefs that little happens in the way of action and the point of view takes over the narrative. Too many minor characters also adds to the convoluted structure, with soap opera plot elements distracting from the main themes. Good supporting performances by Anthony Zerbe and Sylvia Syms help but a boring two hours with only some action at the end makes this quickly dismissable. The ending drags on to a predictable but ridiculous conclusion.
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7/10
No Sparks Between Sharif and Andrews in So So Spy Film
dglink2 February 2017
Blake Edwards made many entertaining films; some, like "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Victor Victoria," retain their class and glamour, while others, like "The Tamarind Seed," aimed for those same qualities, but fell short. Opening titles by Maurice Binder and a score by John Barry evoke the feel of a James Bond film and underscore the espionage elements. Unfortunately, the film, which was also scripted by Edwards from a novel by Evelyn Anthony, is saddled with an insipid love story that overwhelms the action and sinks the plot, and the Cold War intrigue is too little and too late to save the movie. While Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif have star power, the pair do not have much chemistry. The prim and proper Andrews is too cool for the smoldering Sharif, who should have been better teamed with an Ava Gardner.

Andrews plays Judith Farrow, an English widow, who works at the British Home Office and has access to sensitive information. After a failed love affair, she travels to Barbados to recover. Sharif is Feodor Sverdlov, a military attache to the Russian Embassy in London, who also goes to Barbados; but is he on holiday or out to recruit Andrews? His motives are ambiguous, and his unconvincing attraction to the chilly Andrews skews viewers to believe the worst. While Sharif pursues Andrews, back in London, Anthony Quayle and Dan O'Herlihy monitor the situation in Barbados for Her Majesty's Goverrnment, while the pursuit of a Russian mole in British intelligence simmers. O'Herlihy is a man of secrets, and Sylvia Syms as his ambitious wife snipes at her husband's gay orientation, while she pursues an affair with a young employee of Quayle. During their romantic trysts, Syms's paramour leaks confidential information to her during the pillow talk. Got all that? The supporting players, who also include Oscar Homolka as a Russian general, are professional, if unexceptional, although Syms is a cut above the others.

Similar comments could be made about the film, professional, if unexceptional. "The Tamarind Seed" is certainly well made, but predictable. Sharif and Andrews go through the motions, know their lines, and hit their marks, but nothing ignites between them. The plot is similarly mundane. Although a James-Bond like song is heard, Andrews never has an opportunity to sing, which may disappoint her fans. The glossy film resembles other Blake Edwards films in its polish, but not in its entertainment value. Perhaps "The Tamarind Seed" is not the worst way to pass two hours, but all involved have done much better work.
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7/10
From Russia with love -- a Cold War defection movie
SimonJack2 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Some reviewers – but not all, seem to have missed the point of this film. "The Tamarind Seed" is not a spy movie. There is no espionage, passing of secrets, skulduggery, clandestine meetings, secret codes and passwords, or any of the myriad other things that usually make up spy and espionage thrillers. Rather, this is a film about a planned defection from the Soviet Union to the West. And, it centers around a chance meeting that blossoms into a friendship, then a deep romance and love.

It does have touches of the espionage character on the edges – the Soviet Union and England each concerned about their person giving away secrets to the other, and about possibly getting information from the other. But there's never any of that activity in the film. And, Omar Sharif's character, Colonel Feodor Sverdlov. even makes that a point in his discussions with Judith Farrow (played by Julie Andrews). The other touch of espionage has to do with a mole in British intelligence somewhere. And there's somewhat of a humorous and satirical take on that, in that when the traitor's wife finds out, she decides to help protect her husband because she yearns for him to get a promising embassy posting. So, she too becomes a traitor. This is a new take on what people will do out of greed and the lust for power and prestige. It's quite interesting.

The story is a good one – not at all implausible. And who says it must be plausible? It's refreshingly different in that the focus of the two lead characters is on them, their friendship, love, and what their future life may be. It's not about espionage because they're not in this for that reason. They want out of the business and any association with it. The frankness of discussions in the plot helps establish that in the minds of the audience. Still, I found myself wondering if he was on the up and up or really being straightforward with her. Just enough for some intrigue about how this would play out, and therefore keeping me very interested in the film.

As I said, no skulduggery, suspenseful moments or intense situations are here – until near the very end when things come to a head. This is a good film and look at a subject that grabbed the headlines in the world for nearly half a century – defections of Soviet agents, athletes, artists and scientists. Too few of such films were made, and the public awareness of that time and those situations has dimmed. So, "The Tamarind Seed" has some historical value as well, with its look at that subject and the times. The acting and supporting cast are all very good. The cinematography and other technical aspects, direction and editing are very good. It's a nice movie to see a couple of performers who starred in and made some great films in the mid-20th century.
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6/10
Fine entertainment
Hojalataes17 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Blake Edwards, better known for his comedies, directs this respectable spy film based on Evelyn Anthony's novel of the same title. July Andrews in on a holiday in Barbados trying to recover from a love affair with a married man. She meets Omar Sharif and she falls in love with him, only to discover that he's an international Russian spy willing to change sides.

On the bright side, the story keeps you interested despite the slow pace. It shows that it is possible to make a nice spy film without crazy special effects, nonsense action scenes and going ballistic for the most unsuspected reason. There's a very nice soundtrack by John Barry and a spectacular song sung by Wilma Reading.

On the dark side, it has several of the stereotypes of this kind of movies from the 70's, as for example, the Russians spies have a very strong Russian accent: how do they manage to spy and mingle without being noticed? To keep it short, a nice spy movie where for over 108 minutes, not a single gun is shot and not a single blood drop is spilt. It has great climax scene, where suspense is very well built. A rara avis nowadays, where the explosions have to be loud and action has to be unbelievable in the less realistic possible way. By the way, the movie is 119 minutes long and, believe it or not, July Andrews doesn't sing on this film!!
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7/10
Omar makes it all worth while
Elegantone115 February 2011
Omar Sharif is the best part of this movie, he has the most charming and interesting lines, he is great as Fyodor.

If you ever get lost during the film, his character will put you at ease.

The film reminded me of Rosebud, a film Peter O'Toole did about embassies, spies, and strange liaisons.

If you're wondering about the title, the tamarind seed is of importance to the Julie Andrew character when she and Omar are vacationing on the same island. The seed is very rare and it is a symbol of possibilities in my opinion. There's a lot of talk about ideologies, political games, conscience, and which side you're on.

It's worth watching this movie to learn some interesting things, most of the intrigue and pleasure comes from Omar's performance.
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6/10
Omar The Charmer
robert-connor16 September 2009
When a British civil servant strikes up a relationship with a member of the Russian intelligence she meets on holiday, the authorities on both sides grow increasingly alarmed. From the James Bond style opening credits to John Barry's gorgeous score, this is wonderful 70s spy territory. Who can be trusted? Is everyone who they seem or claim to be? Flitting between Paris and London, Granadas and Mercedes aplenty, Sharif is deliciously charming, relaxed and believable as Feodor Sverdlov. Each time we think we know what he's up to, he does or says something to make us doubt again. As a bitter and scheming diplomatic wife caught up in the subterfuge, Sylvia Syms steals every scene she's in, and well deserved the BAFTA nomination that year. Only Andrews looks uneasy, and whilst we believe Sharif's romantic intentions, she is so subdued throughout that we wonder whether it's meant or just wooden acting. Still, it's a great yarn, and worth a look.
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5/10
Julie Andrews is great but the film is a bore.
gridoon28 July 2000
Julie Andrews, looking quite attractive, gives an unexpectedly mature, thoughtful performance which leaves no doubt that she is capable of playing serious dramatic roles. Unfortunately, she is possibly the only impressive quality of this BORING spy melodrama, which icludes some good scenes along with many annoying or redundant or irrelevant ones. It definitely needs some trimming. Alfred Hitchcock's similar "Torn Curtain" is considered one of his weakest films, but it's at least five times better than this one.
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5/10
John Le Carré crossed with Mills and Boon
James Hitchcock21 December 2016
"The Tamarind Seed" is a seventies spy thriller, but not a spy thriller in the action-adventure James Bond mould. This one has more in common with the Cold War dramas of John Le Carré, although a more exact comparison would be with a Le Carré novel crossed with the cheesy romantic fiction of the Mills and Boon School. At its heart is a romance between a British Home Office official and a Russian spy. The Briton is Judith Farrow, an attractive thirty-something widow. The Russian is Fyodor Sverdlov, a military attaché (diplomatic language for spy) at the Soviet embassy in Paris. The two meet while on holiday in Barbados. (The film's somewhat enigmatic title derives from a Barbadian legend about a tamarind tree which has borne seeds in the shape of a human head ever since a slave was hanged from it for a crime he did not commit).

The audience are supposed to take the Judith/Sverdlov romance as genuine, although both the British and Soviet security services are suspicious of it. British intelligence suspect that Sverdlov is planning to recruit Judith (who has access to confidential Home Office information) as an agent. Their suspicions are compounded by the fact that, between the death of her husband in a car crash and beginning the romance with Sverdlov, Judith managed to fit in a failed love affair with Richard Paterson, Sverdlov's opposite number at the British embassy. Sverdlov tells his superiors in Soviet intelligence that he is indeed trying to recruit Judith, but they (with justification) suspect him of plotting to defect.

When the film first appeared in 1974 much was made of the fact, or supposed fact, that Julie Andrews was getting away from the "goodie-two-shoes" image she had been lumbered with ever since "Mary Poppins" and "The Sound of Music"; I recall one reviewer expressing surprise because she briefly appears in a bikini. (Memo to reviewer: Julie is not a nun in real life). In fact, "The Tamarind Seed" marks much less of a break from this image than some of her later films such as "S.O.B." , also directed by her husband Blake Edwards. Judith may have affairs, but she is still the innocent heroine, even if the word "innocent" needs to be understood here in the sense of "naïve" rather than in that of "sexless". I was surprised by just how ready Judith is to take Sverdlov at face value, given that in the seventies any Briton working in a politically sensitive position would have been alert to the fact that the Soviet Union frequently used diplomacy as a cover for espionage (as, indeed, did many other countries).

Sverdlov is played by the Egyptian actor Omar Sharif, a man who, at least in his English-language films, seemed to specialise in playing characters of every nationality but his own; he had previously played a Russian in "Dr Zhivago". As played by Sharif, Sverdlov does not really seem like a man in the throes of romantic passion; he comes across far more as the smooth, slick seducer which British intelligence believe him to be, making it all the more surprising that Judith was not more on her guard.

Andrews is better than Sharif, although this is not one of her greatest performances, but the best acting comes from Anthony Quayle, who plays intelligence officer Jack Loder, head of security at the British embassy in Paris. Loder is the man handling Sverdlov's defection, but he does not entirely trust him, and not only for the obvious reason that Sverdlov may turn out to be a double agent. Loder is a patriot who sees intelligence work in terms of national interest rather than left-versus-right politics, and cannot understand a Russian who wants to betray Russia any more than he can understand a Briton who wants to betray Britain. Despite the nature of his work, Loder eventually turns out to have a humane and decent side to his character. Unlike most of his upper-class colleagues at the Embassy, he is from a working-class background, indicated by a strong regional accent.

There is another decent performance from Dan O'Herlihy as Fergus Stephenson, a British diplomat who turns out to be a Soviet agent; he is portrayed as a member of the notorious Cambridge spy ring. (In 1974 only three of its five members had been identified, and there was much speculation about the identity of the others, later named as Anthony Blunt and John Cairncross). One thing I found difficult to understand, however, is the failure of Stephenson's wife, who loathes and despises him, to expose him when she discovers his treachery; the explanation given, that she is looking forward to the glamour of life as an Ambassador's wife when he is promoted, never rings true.

The Cold War atmosphere of the seventies can seem very remote from the very different world of today, notwithstanding a renewal of anti-Russian feeling in certain quarters, and films about Cold War spy intrigue, including this one, can look very dated. This film, in fact, actually looks more dated than something like the Le Carré adaptation "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold", although that film was made in black-and-white nine years earlier, or even Carol Reed's "The Man Between" from the fifties. Those two films, however, are only incidentally about espionage; they are primarily about human nature and human relationships, and contain some great acting from their stars Richard Burton and James Mason. "The Tamarind Seed", by contrast, only arouses interest when it is about espionage and not about the glossy romance at its centre. 5/10
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6/10
Sappy espionage story stars Andrews and Sharif
Neil Doyle7 October 2006
JULIE ANDREWS never looked so good--and neither did London, Paris and Barbados, as the espionage story shifts back and forth between handsome locales and gives Julie and co-star OMAR SHARIF some stunning close-up shots as they gently romance against gorgeous backdrops.

The story takes its time to unwind in the course of slightly over two hours and that's part of the problem. Julie and Omar come from different Cold War backgrounds, each a bit unsure of whether their romance can survive with murky suspicions brewing about their alliances to, respectively, England and Russia.

It's the sort of tale female movie-goers loved and which were becoming increasingly rare in the 1970s when the male action films were doing the biggest box-office and films about sensitive relationships were doomed to appeal to smaller audiences. This one never quite made it to the "popular" status that other Andrews films did, and in this one she never raised her voice in song. It's serious drama and, although she handles it well, it wasn't exactly what her fans expected.

Summing up: Nice backgrounds but rather muddled espionage story bogged down in romance.
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