The KGB and the CIA have struck a bargain to eliminate former agents who might prove embarrassing to either of their espionage organizations. The chief of the CIA mission in Lebanon names Gabriel Lee as the next agent it wishes to have liquefied. Lee is vacationing in Israel when the assassins fail at their first attempt to kill him and he turns to his former mentor, also a retired agent, for assistance. Written by
Typical (and typically complex) Cold War spy saga, not the best in the genre by far but still counting among its admirers film-geek supremo Quentin Tarantino!
The narrative deals with hounded KGB man Oliver Reed who's wanted by one side and deemed expendable by the other; the only one who can help him is Richard Widmark, recently retired from the C.I.A. and currently living with Reed's ex-flame (Gayle Hunnicutt) in Israel! On Reed's trail are Sam Wanamaker of the C.I.A. and Vladek Sheybal of the KGB; an Israeli agent, who's trying to keep the situation under control, is sympathetic to Widmark but ends up paying for the interest with his life. As a film, It's watchable enough but hardly outstanding, despite a plethora of action sequences set to a pounding score and culminating in a desert trek fraught with peril. Even so, the star combo works surprisingly well (watching them dressed up in Jewish garb "praying" beneath the Weeping Wall is an unintentionally comic highlight), the supporting cast all pull their weight (particularly Sheybal's sleek but ruthless hit-man), and the overly-hysterical Hunnicutt is ultimately exposed as a femme fatale.
THE SELL OUT is available on a budget DVD containing two other espionage titles (all under the dubious name of "Great Spy Movies"): these are the obscure THE INSIDE MAN (1984) which, at least, offers some interest due to the presence in the cast of Dennis Hopper and Hardy Kruger and the distinctly unappetizing HANGMEN (1987) with Sandra Bullock and Jake LaMotta!
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