The Good Shepherd
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Edward Wilson is most likely based on the life of James Jesus "Gray Ghost" Angleton, the head of Counterintelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency from 1954 to 1974. Angleton was, indeed, from Yale and he did go to Europe during the Second World War, but he was posted in Italy and he specialized in finding and exposing Nazi 'stay behind' spies. His nickname was "the Gray Ghost," after a special type of fishing lure which appears to fish to be another, smaller fish, and even wiggles to create the illusion that it is "alive." Not only was the "Ghost" a metaphor for the operation of the CIA itself, but Angleton was an adept fisherman who specialized in using that particular lure. Angleton was renowned during his CIA career for his ability to analyze complex patterns within Soviet counterintelligence. Unlike the movie, however, Angleton's father did not committ suicide, nor did Angleton orchestrate the murder of his son's fiancee. Angleton's CIA career ended as a result of the Golitsyn/Nosenko affairs, which are briefly fictionalized in the film in the form of the interrogation scene involving the second man claiming to be Mironov. In real life, Angleton "came to blows" with the CIA over which of the men was really a Russian defector and which was a spy, and he was forced into retirement because of his refusal to bow to the agency's demands that he drop the case.

It was the first stanza of three from a poem titled simply, "Song," by Trumbull Stickney, and initially published in 1902. ("The Poems of Trumbull Stickney," edited by Amberys R. Whittle. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1972. ISBN 374-2537-6)

Prior to Fidel Castro's rise to power, Cuba, especially Havana, was known throughout the United States as a safe haven for the Mafia. Several high ranking mafioso owned or had interest in Havana casinos, and several more used Havana as a base of operations. Upon Castro's rise to power, he exiled or imprisoned all mafioso, both to consolidate his power and to use them as "bad examples" of capitalism run amok. Among those imprisoned in Cuba was one Santo Trafficante Jr., the alleged "Don" of Tampa. Though Trafficante was eventually allowed to return to the United States, he lost control of all of his Havana businesses, including several legally operated casinos and a drive-in movie theatre. Upon his return to the United States, Trafficante was approached by fellow mafioso Johnny Roselli about the possibility of cooperating with the United States Government in a plot to assassinate Fidel Castro. Roselli, along with mafioso Sam Giancana, had been in talks with CIA director Allen W. Dulles, regarding a plan wherein the Mafia would help the CIA overthrow Cuba's communist government in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution for past crimes. The scene in the film is likely a dramatization of a meeting between Trafficante and the CIA; Pesci's character greatly resembles Trafficante physically, especially the large horn-rimmed glasses he wears in the scene.

A number of Mafiosa-connected associates operated out of Miami. Chief among them was Meyer Lansky, with his connections with the National in Havana. Miami was "neuteral territory" for the Mafia and the lax law enforcement in the Miami - Ft. Lauderdale area was a strong attraction for gambling. When the state of Florida allowed the opening of a number of gambling ventures such as Jai Lai and dog and horse tracks, and cracked down on south Florida establishments, many hard-core gamblers turned to casinos in Havana, and all of the families from major cities in the United States made investments either directly in Havana casinos and hotels, or bought in with shares from the controlling families. The city of Tampa was well known as a "family" town, the only one in Florida, and a possible leverage point for CIA.

(Compiling information from multiple posts on the discussion board) While dining with the German translator, Matt Damon (Wilson) quotes from Ovid's Metamorphoses - He paraphrases from Book 14, lines 131-153 ( I grabbed a pile of dust, and holding it up, foolishly asked for as many birthdays as the grains of dust, I forgot to ask that they be years of youth.

Who told the russians about the Bay of Pigs invasion?

They got the information from their spy, the young black woman, who later was going to get married to Edward Junior. Ed Jr. told her when they were making love in the (hotel?) room in Kongo-Leo. The Russians made a film and sound recording through the hole in the wall.


Mr. Wilson, the Russians, or the Russians acting for Mr. Wilson?

The traitor was not killed: it was Edward's son. But he was going to marry a "former" Soviet spy, and Edward knew that espionage world is full of lies and tricks, and feared that "Ulysses" hint at the fact the Soviets could not trust her was, in fact, an attempt to plant a Soviet mole inside Edward's family. So... Edward was possibly the one who gave the order.


Actually, the implication of the final meeting with Ulysses suggests that the Russians had the woman killed, at Edward's request. In that scene, Edward declines to work with Ulysses. However, Ulysses replies that there will come a time in the future when he may seek a favor from Edward. He then abruptly changes topics to discuss the fact that this woman, whom he earlier noted can be trusted by neither side, is about to join Edward's family. And doesn't Edward want her to join his family? He does not reply.

However, later, Ulysses's Russian companion asks if he can borrow a dollar to make a purchase for his son. Edward hands him a single dollar bill, and then says that it would be a cardinal sin to not be generous.

At the very beginning of the film, you'll remember that a small boy hands a bill to Edward on the bus. The serial number is later checked against a list--an agent named 'Cardinal' is sending a message to CIA. (In Tom Clancy's novel _The Cardinal of the Kremlin_, 'Cardinal' is the code-name for the CIA's most high-placed agent in the Kremlin.)

One implication is that with the simple exchange shown, Ulysses and Edward agree to the following exchange--the KGB will kill the woman in exchange for information regarding a high-placed CIA asset inside the Soviet Union. Alternatively it could be interpreted that actually Ulysees' companion IS Cardinal and that asking Edward for a dollar is his way of saying that he has information he wishes to provide, their remarks to one another and the use of the term 'Cardinal' a pre-arranged code. Possibly this information is concerning Edward's son's lover who Edward is then able to kill as a result.


Actually, the statement being made is that "assets" like the woman in Africa are fungible accounting units, to be discarded at will. Much like the way the former Yale professor was casually killed in London. The question of who "gave the order" is a trivial accounting concept. The process killed the woman, the way the process disposes of other individuals who are just visiting while the various Bonesmen keep the wars small.

Edward's son was not a traitor. He was the chump caught in a Soviet honey pot. This is one of the workhorse ideas of cold war lore - the russians taking advantage of the recurrent american inability to keep it in their pants. The rather broad assertion being made is that Edward's father fell in the same way, Edward himself got involved in Berlin, and therefore Edward's son was ripe for the plucking.

Wilson discovers that it is the British operative, Arch Cummings, and he later tells him that he will realize his own, stated, worst fear, that of ending up alone and friendless. The discovery of the true identity of Mironov -- who is, in fact, Modin, as the real Mironov had revealed under extreme and brutal interrogation -- burns into Wilson's consciousness and conscience. He was forced to confront the reality of having had a Soviet double agent on his own payroll for years, and the duplicity of Arch Cummings brings up the entire real-life sordid affair of British moles like Kim Philby, the Queen's art collector Anthony Blount, and operatives Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess. The so-called "Cambridge Dons" were very effective in recruiting young men from prominent families or of high intellect in the 1930s, for the Communist Party. It also brings into question the assassination by the British of the literature professor 'outed' as a supposed German sympathizer by young Wilson when he was at Yale.


No question about the professor. He was explicitly portrayed as running a false recruitment("coat trailing") operation, with the goal of identifying potential or actual axis sympathisers. Such provocations are common. The Russians ran the largest and most successfull one in "The Trust", a supposed counter-revolutionary organization that identified large numbers of russian objectors to the revolution.

The script throws another bone to the russians in the London professor termination. They use american homophobia to agitate the allies into killing their own asset. But this is one of the weaker plot arcs in this movie.

Matt Damon's character Edward Wilson realized after the sex scene with Hanna (German Translator) that she could hear without the use of her hearing aid. This proved that she was a Russian operative and as a consequence was duly killed. The hearing aid that was left in Ulysses' teapot was to let him know that she had been taken care of.

It also showed the practice of Wilson and Ulsses' telling each other that they found an agent by returning something that gave the agent away. Before an agent went to Central America Wilson told him not to wear his Yale ring; later a can of coffee arrives with a severed finger and Yale ring.


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