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Eye of the Needle (1981)

R  |   |  Romance, Thriller, War  |  24 July 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 6,744 users  
Reviews: 50 user | 24 critic

A ruthless German spy, trying to get out of Britain with vital information about D-Day, must spend time with a young woman and her crippled husband.



(based on the novel by), (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Stephen MacKenna ...
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A German spy carrying information that will reveal the target of Operation Overlord becomes involved with the wife of a crippled man on an isolated island off the Scottish coast while he waits to be picked up. Written by Keith Loh <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

german | love | spy | u boat | murder | See All (88) »


To love a stranger is easy... To kill a lover is not. See more »


Romance | Thriller | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

24 July 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nålens öga  »

Box Office


SEK 5,742,895 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


(archive footage)| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Final cinema movie of actor Sam Kydd. See more »


Just before ditching the stolen motor cycle Faber crossed Connel Bridge near Oban. In the period of the film it was a railway and road bridge, and there were no signs of railway lines. (In the 1960s it was also a toll bridge.) See more »


Faber: [calling on radio to submarine] Singvogel. Hier ist die Nadel. Kommen.
["Songbird. This is the Needle. Come."]
See more »


Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »


For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
Sung by wedding guests with modified lyrics ("For They Are Jolly Good Fellows")
See more »

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User Reviews

Somewhat unpromising but effective mixing of WW2 spy fare with an intense romantic thriller works superbly
22 February 2006 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

Eye of the Needle is an oddly structured but nonetheless extremely effective film which in many ways is quite old fashioned in tone and feel,with the addition of a little 'modern'sex and violence. For almost the first half,the film is a fairly conventional but quite gripping spy thriller,as a German agent causes havoc in World War 2 England. There are few surprises,but Donald Sutherland is mesmerising to watch {even if his accent wavers} and the plot at least sounds almost plausible. The keen eyed,however,may spot mistakes in the period detail.

Then Sutherland is washed up on a Scottish island inhabited by a crippled man and his frustrated wife,and the film changes into an incredibly tense mixture of romance and thrills. Sutherland and Nelligan's affair may be basically sexual,but there is real chemistry between them and a real sense of desperation,of two lonely people throwing themselves together. The last half hour is real edge-of-the-seat stuff,perhaps almost bordering on psycho-thriller,but it really works.

Throughout the film Sutherland remains the villain and does do some nasty things,but it's a measure of his performance that occasionally we do come close to sympathising with him. Acting-wise though the film really belongs to Nelligan,a tragically underused and beautiful actress who has to go through the motions of loneliness and frustration,than lust,then fear,and eventually heroism,and does so superbly.

Aided tremendously by the last ever score from the legendary film composer Miklos Rozsa,who provides a moving love theme and some especially thrilling music for the last section of the film,Eye of the Needle perhaps shouldn't really work as well at it does,but that's a measure of it's quality.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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