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The Human Factor (1979)

When a leak of information in the African Section of British Intelligence is discovered security man Daintry is brought in to investigate.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Colonel John Daintry
Joop Doderer ...
Cornelius Muller
Brigadier Tomlinson
Arthur Davis
Doctor Percival
Castle's Mother
Sir John Hargreaves
Maurice Castle
Keith Marsh ...
Anthony Woodruff ...
Doctor Barker
Gary Forbes ...
Lady Mary Hargreaves


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


Every man in love is a potential traitor.


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

January 1980 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Anthropinos paragon  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director Richard Attenborough's final acting role in a cinema movie until Jurassic Park (1993) around fourteen years later. See more »


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


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

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User Reviews

easy to underestimate
2 April 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is an odd film. 'Low-key' is certainly an apt description, and though I don't agree, I can see why some have dismissed it as flat, tedious, etc.

It has stayed in my mind after each viewing - I've seen it twice now on television - more than many other more critically praised films. There's something about the deliberate underplaying, the bland, familiar suburbia of the leading character's house, the politeness, the dog.... The film shows us a non-dramatic world in which dramatic events are being played out in secret, under cover of banal normality. It recalls the hurried departures of Kim Philby and friends from their own domestic lives. It's unsettling: what else might be happening in our own quiet streets?

Personally, I think it's rather wonderful. Clearly it's an ancestor of the brilliant TV adaptations of Le Carre; indeed, it feels more like Le Carre than Greene, which may be why Greene reportedly didn't like it. But it needs to be viewed for what it is: an essay in tension, told in a deliberately chosen style. If you only like action films, it's not for you.

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