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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:
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 | Plot Synopsis


Their love was as dangerous as the secrets they kept. 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

Opening Weekend USA:

$4,435,650, 25 December 1990, Wide Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the year that this film was released, John le Carré was awarded the Helmerich Award. The Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award is an American Literary Prize bestowed by Oklahoma's Tulsa Library Trust. The award is given every year to an "internationally acclaimed" writer who has "written a distinguished body of work and made a major contribution to the field of literature and letters". 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 »


Ned: The issue is: "why"? That's what you're looking for all the time: we trust the motive, we trust the man, and we can trust the material. Why did Dante pick on Katya? Why does he put her life at risk? Why does she let him? Is she a spy?
See more »


Referenced in The Chase Australia: Episode #2.24 (2016) See more »


The Sheik Of Araby
Written by Ted Snyder (as T. Snyder), Francis Wheeler (as F. Wheeler) & Harry B. Smith (as H. B. Smith)
Published by Bienstock Publishing Co. & Filmtrax
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

This is great stuff
13 January 2002 | by See all my reviews

Admittedly, The Russia House may not be for all tastes, but I saw this when I was 15 when it came out in the theaters and I loved it then and I love it now.

If you go in expecting this to be a James Bond/Simon Templar/North By Northwest type movie, you'll be GRAVELY disappointed. Needless to say, the movie is dialogue driven and the performances are great. Sean Connery (my all-time favorite) gives a nice performance in a role that isn't typical Connery. Michelle Pfeiffer (my favorite actress) is equally excellent. I kept looking for her to flub her Russian accent, but she's on target from start to finish.

The supporting players: Roy Scheider, who I also love, is awesome. There's a lot of witty dialogue in this film, but Scheider has some of the film's most memorable ones. Ken Russell, the controversial director, has an equally memorable, witty role as "Walter". I own this movie, but between the time I saw it in the theaters and the time I bought it a year and half ago, Russell was one of the things about the movie that really stood out in my memory of the film. And of course, James Fox who's always great.

Not really a supporting player but it might as well be is the LOCATIONS. Wow, really breathtaking stuff. Fred Schepsi did a wondrous job with the locations, and the CAMERA. The cinematography and locations were first-rate. And if that wasn't enough, I was equally enthralled with the jazzy musical score. If it isn't already apparent, I love this movie, and I absolutely recommend it.

It has a nice blend of dialogue, plot, romance and humor. I reiterate: Not for all tastes given that many may find it slow, but definitely worth a look. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

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