7.1/10
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61 user 32 critic

Eye of the Needle (1981)

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.

Director:

Richard Marquand

Writers:

Ken Follett (based on the novel by), Stanley Mann (screenplay)

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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Donald Sutherland ... Faber
Stephen MacKenna ... Lieutenant
Philip Martin Brown ... Billy Parkin
Kate Nelligan ... Lucy
Christopher Cazenove ... David
George Belbin George Belbin ... Lucy's Father
Faith Brook ... Lucy's Mother
Barbara Graley Barbara Graley ... David's Mother
George Lee George Lee ... Constable
Arthur Lovegrove Arthur Lovegrove ... Peterson
Colin Rix Colin Rix ... Oliphant
Barbara Ewing Barbara Ewing ... Mrs. Garden
Chris Jenkinson Chris Jenkinson ... German SS Officer
William Merrow William Merrow ... German Radio Operator
Patrick Connor Patrick Connor ... Inspector Harris
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Storyline

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 <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

spy | german | woman | love | u boat | See All (89) »

Taglines:

Codename: "The Needle". Only one person can stop him: The woman who loves him ! See more »

Genres:

Romance | Thriller | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

24 July 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El ojo de la aguja See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$17,583,634
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White (archive footage)| Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie is one of two films mostly released globally around the same time in the early 1980s (i.e. mid-1981 to 1982) that involved a love triangle between a man, an unhappy sexually frustrated wife and her irritable crippled husband. The other film was Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981). Actually, in the Eye of the Needle novel written by Ken Follett a character mentions Lady Chatterley's Lover (not by name but through a description from a moment of the book). See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Lucy is getting away in the truck, we see it has normal peace-time headlights, not the black-out ones during the war. See more »

Quotes

Faber: The war has come down to the two of us.
See more »

Alternate Versions

NTSC DVD R1 and PAL DVD R2, have different endings. European PAL DVD version ending is approx. 1.5 minutes longer. In the last scene, the helicopter arrives and lands, there is a conversation with the commander about the radio transmission being interrupted and finally the child arrives and reunites with his mother. it's sort of a happy end. This ending was cut from NTSC DVD version. See more »


Soundtracks

When My Little Pomeranian Met Your Little Pekinese
(1933) (uncredited)
Written by Jack Little, Ira Schuster and Dave Oppenheim
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 DrLeneraSee 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.


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