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The Whistle Blower (1986)

PG  |   |  Thriller  |  10 July 1987 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.2/10 from 1,506 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 11 critic

A war veteran tries to investigate the murder of his son who was working as a Russian translator for the British intelligence service during the Cold War. He meets a web of deception and paranoia that seems impenetrable...



(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Frank Jones
Bob Jones
Sir Adrian Chapple
Felicity Dean ...
Cynthia Goodburn
Charles Greig
Kenneth Colley ...
Bill Pickett
David Langton ...
Government Minister
Dinah Stabb ...
Katherine Reeve ...
Tiffany Goodburn
Bill Wallis ...
Ramsay Dodgson
Trevor Cooper ...
Inspector Bourne
Peter Miles ...
Stephen Kedge


Twenty-eight year old idealist Bob Jones is contemplating leaving his position as a Russian translator at Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) as those at the top have issued a new whistle blowing policy - encouraging employees to report any suspicious behavior - in light of the highly publicized case of Ramsay Dodgson, a Soviet spy who was working undetected in the organization for ten years before being caught. Bob does not like the idea of being at the mercy of work colleagues, most, like Dodgson, who he did and does not know. In private, he confides to his father, widowed businessman and retired Navy officer Frank Jones, that part of his want to leave the job, which also entails eavesdropping on private conversations between Soviet officials on a multitude of everyday topics, is that he believes the British and by association Americans are just as corrupt as the Russians in how they infiltrate institutions most of the public see as commonplace, this belief to which ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Within the Secret World of Governmental Cover Ups, Will the one man who dares to tell the truth survive?




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 July 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Le dénonciateur  »

Box Office


$1,500,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A number of the cast were known to audiences from having extensively appeared on British television. See more »


Frank Jones had served in the Royal Navy for twelve years, but was wearing a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal; awarded for fifteen years' exemplary service. And the medal being worn was not that of the Royal Navy, but of the British Army. See more »


[last lines]
Bob Jones: [from a post-death recording] I always believe the man in the white hat always wins... I hope by doing this it will help him
See more »


Featured in Al Murray's Great British Spy Movies (2014) See more »

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User Reviews

A thumbs up from a member of the 'grocer' class
28 June 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Michael Caine has been involved in some stinkers in his career (let's face it every actor has to pay the bills); he has also made plenty of very good films and also plenty of films like 'The Whistle-Blower': an above average and very watchable drama of the second-rank. In fact it's Caine's solid acting (mostly low-key though he does get to fly off the handle in his own inimitable style a couple of times) which invests the film with believable emotion and elevates it above it's many clichés. The supporting cast is strong too; a cynical, amoral, self-serving and oft sinister intelligence industry is portrayed ably by Gordon Jackson, James Fox and John Gielgud.

It's a shame that the demands of marketing mean that a film is often plugged as something it isn't. In this case 'The Whistle-Blower' is not a thriller (in fact the one and only 'action' scene - a car crash -is pretty rubbish and looks a bit tacked on), and it is only superficially a story about cold-war espionage (there are plenty of references to Anthony Blunt et al, but it's no 'Smiley's People'). Essentially it's a drama about loss; a man's loss of faith (in this case in his country) and, of his son. I'd point any harsh detractors of this film to the scene where, soon after learning of his sons death, Jones (Caine) attempts to discuss what happened with his son's neighbour and colleague, Rose (Dinah Stabb), and I challenge them not to be moved and at the same time chilled by the exchange.

Yes, this film does have plenty of flaws. Cinematically it is pretty dull and dated; it has a bit of that naff 1970's/80's home-counties feel to it (though in some ways one could argue I suppose that this style aids in the depiction of the stolid, grey, snobby, repressed British establishment of the story... an establishment trying to cope with it's diminished, subservient place in the world while keeping up the public pretence that Britannia still rules the waves). It's full of clichés and undeveloped characters, and the screen-play has plenty of downs as well as ups; but credit where credit is due, it is at times thought provoking and engaging. It shouldn't be put down for trying to cram a lot of things in and so appearing sometimes a bit unsubtle as a result (as I said previously it's no 'Smileys People').

I felt compelled to follow Jones' journey through a cynical, venal and uncaring world, and in that fundamental manner, for me, the film is a success.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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