6.1/10
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The Russia House (1990)

Trailer
1:50 | Trailer
An expatriate British publisher unexpectedly finds himself working for British intelligence to investigate people in Russia.

Director:

Fred Schepisi

Writers:

John le Carré (novel), Tom Stoppard (screenplay)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Connery ... Barley
Michelle Pfeiffer ... Katya
Roy Scheider ... Russell
James Fox ... Ned
John Mahoney ... Brady
Michael Kitchen ... Clive
J.T. Walsh ... Quinn
Ken Russell ... Walter
David Threlfall ... Wicklow
Klaus Maria Brandauer ... Dante
Mac McDonald ... Bob
Nicholas Woodeson ... Niki Landau
Martin Clunes ... Brock
Ian McNeice ... Merrydew (as Ian McNiece)
Colin Stinton ... Henziger
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Storyline

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 | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The synopsis of the novel "The Russia House" (1989) by John le Carré, on his personal website, reads: "It is the third summer of perestroika. Barley Blair, London publisher, receives a smuggled document from Moscow. Blair, jazz-loving, drink-marinated, dishevelled, is hardly to the taste of the spymasters, yet he has to be used, sent to the Soviet Union to make contact. Katya, the Moscow intermediary, is beautiful, thoughtful, equally sceptical of all state ideology. Together, as the safe clichés of hostility disintegrate, they may represent the future, an idea that is anathema to the entrenched espionage professionals on both sides." See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the movie, at the American control center, when an assistant hands Ned a cup of coffee, he tips it enough that you can see the cup is empty. See more »

Quotes

[while training for a covert mission]
Barley: This is fun... Is that why you keep it secret?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Drei Damen vom Grill: Der große Hävelmann (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
Last of the Cold War dramas? (Not for the easily distracted.)
16 May 2004 | by LupercaliSee all my reviews

The Russia House is a superior spy romance movie which falls short of being great. Additionally a couple of factors have been unkind to it over time.

Connery and Pfeiffer are excellant; the large cast are almost uniformly outstanding (except perhaps Roy Scheider, who I usually like, but who seems a bit over the top in his role here); the Moscow scenery and end of the Cold War feel are great, and the main characters are easy to like, if difficult to outright love. On the down side the writing assumes too much in expecting the audience to stay on top of the espionage jargon and intrigue, added to the non-linear plot. Let your attention wander and you'll lose your way. If it had been a little easier to follow, it would have left more room for dramatic tension, which was adequate but seldom riveting.

When I said that time has been unkind to The Russia House, I meant two things: firstly that the unfortunate timing of the movie's release, a year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, ensured that it would be dated almost immediately. More significantly, a growing portion of the film's potential audience didn't live through the late Soviet Era, and the nuances of concepts like Glasnost, and why Perestroika makes it hard for Pfeiffer to do her shoe-shopping aren't going to mean a thing to anyone much under 30.

But that's not the movie's fault. Russia House is still a quality, enjoyable drama with a great cast, even if it's somewhat ponderous and slow-moving, and complex. And oh yes - it has James Fox. A film like this without James Fox would have been like a table with three legs.

7 out of 10


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

MGM

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Russian

Release Date:

21 December 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

John le Carré's The Russia House See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$21,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,435,650, 25 December 1990

Gross USA:

$22,997,992

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$22,997,992
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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