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The Human Factor (1979)

 -  Drama | Thriller  -  1979 (UK)
6.2
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 625 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 9 critic

When Arthur Davis, a junior bachelor in the British secret service's African section, is seen taking a file with him -to meet his girlfriend Cynthia- the brass fears he may be the leak to ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Colonel John Daintry
Joop Doderer ...
Cornelius Muller
...
Brigadier Tomlinson
...
Arthur Davis
...
Doctor Percival
Ann Todd ...
Castle's Mother
Richard Vernon ...
Sir John Hargreaves
...
Maurice Castle
...
Sarah
Keith Marsh ...
Porter
Anthony Woodruff ...
Doctor Barker
Gary Forbes ...
Sam
Angela Thorne ...
Lady Mary Hargreaves
...
Buffy
Paul Curran ...
Halliday
Edit

Storyline

When Arthur Davis, a junior bachelor in the British secret service's African section, is seen taking a file with him -to meet his girlfriend Cynthia- the brass fears he may be the leak to Moskow, and allows Dr. Percival to terminate the 'risk factor' by poisoning to avoid a scandal. In fact Davis's desk chief, Maurice Castle, is the double agent since the South African communists helped him smuggle out his black lover Sarah M., meanwhile his wife and mother of schoolboy Sam, to force him to cooperate with the Apartheid government. When Cornelius Muller, the South African official who failed to get him in Pretoria's power, visits London for the anti-communist operation Uncle Remus, he points out Castle still is the natural suspect... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1979 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Anthropinos paragon  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Last cinema film of Ann Todd. See more »

Goofs

In the South African scenes (filmed in Kenya), the cars have Kenyan registration plates. See more »

Quotes

Maurice Castle: Davis calls all children "little bastards".
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An English spy is a double agent
27 September 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Graham Greene is one of the great writers of all time. The novel on which this film is based (same title)is one of his greatest books. How inexplicably sad, then, especially given the talent attached to this project, that the resulting film should be such a complete failure.

Looking at it I can hardly believe that the often great Otto Preminger actually directed it. Perhaps it is a case of the medium (unfortunately television) being truly the message. For one thing there are almost no close ups; every scene is shot as if we are watching a play --- in a long master shot. Then there is the lighting, which is not film lighting at all, but illumination. It is as if the lighting cameraman were someone hired from a lighting warehouse --- he seems to want to light every scene so brightly that it would be possible to read the fine print of a Hollywood contract in every corner of the set. When I read the book in my mind it was taking place in a dark world a la the film world of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. How much better having the lighting cameraman from that film on this job...

Tom Stopard take the "credit" for the insipid screenplay. Stopard has done great things in the past, but this job he must have phoned in. While capturing the plot of the book in a rather disturbing telescopic way, he loses the mood, the characters and worst of all the humor. Greene is an enormously funny writer to read. Stopard lost all of it. He did make a pathetic attempt to transfer one of Greene's jokes concerning some kids' chocolate treats called Maltesers, but even then while Greene makes it droll, the filmed version of the joke falls on its face in its broad, on-the-nose literalness.

A great cast of actors were unable to do anything with this mess. And there is not one moment of believable sexual energy going on between Nicol Williamson and the black girl he basically sacrifices his career for. Even Robert Morely fails to get into the sinister Dr. Percival character, who in the book becomes a kind of symbol for the moral compromises the sincere Cold Warrior was willing to make. Morley's Percival is just a murderous dolt.

All that being said, if you loved the book this is (so far) the only film version of the story and you probably would enjoy seeing it. Just be ready for the disappointment.


5 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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