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The Russia House (1990)

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An expatriate British publisher unexpectedly finds himself working for British intelligence to investigate people in Russia.



(novel), (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mac McDonald ...
Niki Landau
Merrydew (as Ian McNiece)


Three notebooks supposedly containing Russian military secrets are handed to a British publisher during a Russian book conference. The British secret service are naturally keen to learn if these notebooks are the genuine article. To this end, they enlist the help of the scruffy British publisher Barley Blair, who has plenty of experience with Russia and Russians. Barley, an unconventional character who doesn't respond well to authority, finds himself in a game more complex than he first thought when he digs into the origin of the notebooks. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He took a chance because he had nothing to lose, she took a chance because she had everything to gain. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

21 December 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

John le Carré's The Russia House  »

Box Office


$22,998,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The character of Harry Palfrey, aka Horatio Benedict de Palfrey, who is played by actor Neil Morrissey in the mini-series The Night Manager (2016), and also appears in its source 1993 John le Carré novel of the same name, first appeared in the earlier 1990 John le Carré "The Russia House" novel, but not in its movie adapation of the same name, The Russia House (1990). See more »


During Blair's "start the avalanche" speech, Dante is seen at the end of the table. As the camera pans around the table during the speech, Dante disappears from the end of the table, and then reappears. See more »


Bartholomew "Barley" Scott Blair: If there is to be a hope we must all betray our country, we have to save each other because all victims are equal and none is more equal than others. It's everyone's duty to start the avalanche.
See more »


Ain't Misbehavin'
Written by Fats Waller (as Thomas "Fats" Waller), Harry Brooks & Andy Razaf
Published by Bienstock Publishing Co. & Filmtrax
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Authentic and beautifully filmed on location; all actors excellent!
26 April 2004 | by (San Diego, California) – See all my reviews

My parents were born in and emigrated from the Ukraine. They have firsthand knowledge of the way the Soviet government operated. The details in the movie are very true to life under the Soviet regime. The plot is complex but life is also complex; especially under a repressive regime. I found the movie riveting; the plot keeps you guessing until the end. It is beautifully filmed on location. The actors are all excellent and very well cast. In addition, the music is wonderful; not only as a movie score but on its own, as well. Although some may find the plot difficult to follow (you do have to pay attention), it is well worth the viewing. After all, spying is a complex business.

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