The KGB is looking for one of their people, a man named Dalchimsky because he has stolen something important but, unfortunately, he manages to get through the border. Later in the U.S. some seemingly ordinary people after receiving a phone call go out and destroy key American military installations. Back in the U.S.S.R. General Strelsky and Colonel Malchenko send for Grigori Borzov, a KGB agent who has been to the U.S. on missions before. They inform him that after the U-2 incident in fear of the possibility that a war with the U.S. will occur; they were part of an operation called TELEFON that involved recruiting young agents and then brainwashing them into believing that they are Americans. They would assume the identity of an American who died a long time ago and who would be their age now. They would be situated in a city that is near or where a key U.S. military installation is located. They were also programmed to destroy upon receiving the command phrase. They have been ...Written by
The Yellow Rose of Texas
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Miles to go before I sleep
This excellent spy thriller directed by action master Don Siegel unfortunately has a drab, aloof title that causes many to skip it for a more exciting-sounding tag. Even Charles Bronson fans, and they are legion, often ignore this little gem for others of the genre. Not only a dilly of a suspense story filled with some of Hollywood's best actors at the time, "Telefon" also contains humor and many tongue-in-cheek lines. The Robert Frost poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," utilized to trigger the drug-induced hypnotized Soviet agents to finish their mission becomes a pun for KGB agent Maj. Grigori Borzov (Bronson)when ready to give alluring Barbara (Lee Remick) a tumble in the hay. Borzov looks KGB agent Barbara lustfully in the eyes and emphatically affirms, "Miles to go before we sleep."
Though many consider the story fanciful, it is not as far fetched as some of the actual schemes concocted by overly zealous CIA and KGB officials during the Cold War, especially at the time of the eyeball to eyeball confrontation between the Soviets and the Americans during the days of U-2, the Bay of Pigs, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The fifty KGB agents trained at the time of the U-2 Incident to replace recently deceased Americans with similar profiles, to take out key installation sites when receiving the oral code, lines from the Robert Frost poem, are put on what seems to be permanent hold until one KGB trainer goes berserk and reopens the can of worms over a decade later, when many of the installations have been closed, converted, or moved. Enter agents Borzov and his supposed helper, Barbara, to stop the madman, Nicolai Dalchimsky, played with his usual nefariousness by Donald Pleasence. Borzov uncovers a method to his madness and the fun begins. But what is to become of Borzov once Dalchimsky is removed? There's plenty of spills and thrills along the way with the seasoned actors given intelligent and often humorous lines by writer Peter Hyams whose script is based on the novel by Walter Wager.
Though no one in the cast falters, even in the bit parts, Tyne Daly steals the show as Dorothy Putterman (oh, how the name fits), a computer nerd in those glorious DOS days of old before the world heard of Bill Gates. Not only does Daly get some of the best lines in the movie, she delivers them with élan. She also reminds the viewer to be careful what is said to a computer, because they are very sensitive little fellers.
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