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Bridge of Spies (2015) Poster

Goofs

Anachronisms 

Donovan calls his wife from a West Berlin telephone booth, pays for the call with a few coins, and gets through immediately. In the 1960s, a 3-minute call from the US to Europe cost $10, and overseas calls meant waiting hours to get a line.
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The subway entrance at the beginning has a green globe. These colored globes did not exist until 1982. Green means open 24 hours. Red means not. Prior to 1982 they were always white. Interestingly the exact same mistake was made in a previous Tom Hanks -Steven Spielberg movie, Catch Me If You Can.
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When Donovan was offered an alcoholic drink in East Germany, it comes out of a bottle with an aluminum screw top cap. This didn't exist in 1960. It should have a cork.
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When the television set is turned off in this movie, picture disappears instantly. When TVs of the time were turned off, the picture shrank to a white dot which stayed on the screen for a few minutes.
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When Donovan is riding the subway, outside you can see Directv antennas on people's roofs.
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During the courtroom scenes for the 1957 trial, the American flags flanking the judge were not introduced until 1960. At the time of the trial there were only 48 states. The flags have 50 stars.
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Hoffman and Donovan are seen walking in front of a Cinema multiplex, but this American-style movie viewing concept wasn't introduced in Germany until the 1990s. Furthermore, one of the movies, Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Koffer) is on the marquee but wasn't yet released. Rudolf Ivanovich Abel and Francis Gary Powers were exchanged on Feb. 10, 1962 and the film was released in West Germany on Feb. 23, 1962.
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The plumbing below the bathroom sink in the 50's era Donovan home has braided stainless steel supply lines. This type of plumbing was not developed until the late 80's.
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In the Supreme Court scene the Justices are sitting at a curved bench. Prior to 1971 the bench was straight, it was curved at that time to give Justices at the ends a better angle. At the time of the hearing it would have still been straight.
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The flag hanging in the U-2 hangar is a 50 star flag, not the correct 48 star flag.
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At the beginning of the film, Rudolf Abel flees capture on a subway train. The ribbed siding of the car instantly marks it as an R-32 subway car, but all R-32 subway cars were manufactured in 1964, while this scene is set in 1957 and the rest in 1961 (the year the Berlin Wall was built).

In addition, the interior of the car has stickers with the design of all black and having a white stripe across the top. That style was originally conceived in the New York City Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual of 1970 and rolled out over the following few years. While the subway station was dressed for the era, the subway car itself is doubly anachronistic.
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In several of the Brooklyn scenes cable TV distribution equipment and cables are visible.
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The U-2 shown taking off is a more current R model with longer wings and a GPS pod rather than the C model of the time.
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In Brooklyn a black car that Donovan hides behind has a modern inspection sticker on the windshield.
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The lighting in the NYC subway stations features fluorescent light. Period lighting fixtures would have featured screw type bulbs.
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When Donovan and Abel first meet in an interrogation room in 1957, a fallout shelter sign is visible on the wall opposite Donovan. This design, for the National Fallout Shelter Survey, was introduced in late 1961.
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In the opening scene, when Abel leaves his apartment, a 1968-1973 Checker Taxicab drives by, despite this scene taking place in 1957.
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60 Wall Street, completed in 1989, is clearly visible to the right of the Brooklyn Bridge in one of the early establishing shots set in 1957.
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The Volvo P1800 driven by Vogel was not on the market until 1961.
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The initial scene of Mark Rylances' character, Rudolf Abel, painting his self portrait using a mirror would produce a mirror image portrait with the subject facing to the left. However the painting is facing to the right, this could only be done using either 2 mirrors or by using another painter looking directly at the subject through no mirrors.
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The lenses in Mary Donovan's eyeglasses are plastic with an anti-reflective coating, a type not available until about the mid-1980s. Glasses of the era depicted in the film were universally made with glass lenses.
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The cars outside the hangar at the Pakistani air force base were 1963 Mercury sedans when the scene supposedly took place in 1960.
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The Broad Street station at the beginning of the movie is shown with its modern "retro" tiles, which were installed in the 1990s. The station would have looked completely different in 1957 and resembled stations on the "IND" system.
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In the scene in 1957 where the Tom Hanks character was hiding behind a car in Brooklyn and stands up to meet the CIA guy, a black Studebaker Lark drives by on the cross street. The Lark was introduced in early 1959.
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In the 1960's the East Germany government called the Glienicke Bridge for the "Bridge of Unity" or "Brücke Der Einheit", In 1980 the West Berlin government repaired its half of the bridge, and in 1985 the West Berlin government paid two million West German Marks for repairs to the East German half of the bridge in exchange for formally renaming the bridge "Glienicke Bridge" from "Bridge of Unity."
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In the opening scenes it it 1957 but one white and light blue 1958 Chevy is seen parked on the wrong side of the street.
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Although Colonel Abel was arrested in June 1957, the street scene outside his hotel room had two 1958 model cars featuring - a Chevrolet Bel Air and a Buick sedan.
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Several pieces of Wedgewood china are seen in a cabinet in Dulles' office. The pattern is "Columbia Sage Green & Gold", which was not made until 1966.
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The aircraft carrying both Donovan and Powers home after the exchange in 1962 is marked "Troop Carrier". The USAF Troop Carrier Command was renamed Air Transport Command in 1945 and then Military Air Transport Service in 1948, the latter being the appropriate marking for that aircraft and date.
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The movie begins in 1957 but when the man painting a self portrait goes down to the street, a 1959 Ford Fairlane is seen in the background.
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One of the movies playing in the cinema in Berlin is "Die Verdammten" from Visconti (The Damned). While negotiations are taking place in 1962, Visconti's film was produced in 1969.
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When the new 'drivers' are first shown the U-2, there is a two seat T-38 Talon, taxiing in the background. This scene would be in late 1950's. The T-38 was accepted into the Air Force on 17 March 1961. Also, the Talon was painted black. Only Beale Air Force Base flies black T-38's.
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The street of Friedrichstrasse in Berlin was much wider in real life than displayed in the movie. A tank or car could pass easily on each side of Checkpoint Charlie guard house without having to drive on the sidewalk during that time period.
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Glienicke Bridge upper portal bracing during the 1960's would had a sign mounted "Brücke Der Einheit," before being removed in 1985.
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The dinner table at the Donovan household has Corning Ware bearing the cornflower pattern. This style did not debut until 1958, a year after the film story begins (though it is not entirely clear as to when the dinner takes place).
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Two different scenes, set in 1957, display the same 1959 Plymouth sedan, as well as a 1958 Buick as one of the government vehicles.
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During scenes placed in "Berlin" there are many ruined buildings, yet a new plastic windows can be seen in many town houses (first seen approximately 1:05:00/1:06:00, when Donovan crosses back yard and enters house).
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When Mr. Abel's radio room is visible, about 02:50 minutes into the movie (at the point where he answers the phone), a two-way radio can be seen prominently with its dial illuminated. This radio is a Johnson Messenger 124M citizens band radio. It was not introduced to the market until 1971, 14 years later than the time period depicted in that scene.
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Audio/visual unsynchronised 

When the U2 is plummeting down, the sound used is of a propeller driven plane about to crash. The U2 (TR-1) is jet aircraft.
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Character error 

When Donovan's house has been attacked, a police officer gets mad at him and tells Donovan he fought on Omaha Beach against "these guys". During World War II, USA and Soviet Union were close allies, not enemies, and if the officer was referring to fighting against spies, he should not have mentioned fighting on Omaha Beach.
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Before Donovan goes to Berlin he is warned that East Berlin is being walled off. In fact, the wall surrounded West Berlin. Berlin is located in the eastern half of Germany which was divided between Russia and the Allies after WW2. Berlin was also divided between the two sides meaning that West Berlin was located inside of East Germany.
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Abel calls Donovan 'Stoykiy muzhik', which he translates as 'standing man'. This translation is a bit misleading, and, really, incorrect. Correct translation would be resilient man, or tough man.
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In Abel's "Stoikiy Muzhik" story, he said he witnessed the incident with the "partisans" as a kid. Born in the UK in 1903, Rudolf Ivanovich Abel didn't move to Moscow with his family until 1921, a year or so before the end of the Civil War. While there may have been red or white partisans in other regions, I doubt he would have witnessed such a scene in Moscow at that time. Also, "partisans" in Russian usually refers to resistance fighters during WW II. Time and place don't fit. If it was a story attributed to Abel, he may have been stretching the truth or relating someone else's story; or the screenwriters heard it somewhere and decided to stick it in for effect.
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During an early scene with the pilots, they were told to refer to the U-2 as "the article". Later, during the self-destruct lesson, the instructor refers to the U-2 as "the aircraft", going against his own orders.
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Donovan complains the "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" and the "German Democratic Republic" are far longer than the "United States of America". While the USSR's full name is a bit longer than the USA's, the GDR's is only two more letters.
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Hoffman lets Donovan see a telephone number to memorize it, then burns the slip of paper - but he fails to scrabble the charred remnant into unreadable ashes.
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Continuity 

When Pryor is crossing the Berlin Wall he is first seen with a Zeiss folding camera around his neck. When arrested he has a Rolleiflex-type box camera around his neck.
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The prisoner exchange takes place in snowy Berlin in February. When Donovan returns home to New York the same day the leaves by his front door are green.
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Donovan's coat is stolen on his way to the embassy yet he is seen wearing the same dark coat in a later scene (before the replacement coat with the furry collar appears).
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Donovan is standing alone in the middle of the Glienicke bridge immediately after the prisoner exchange yet there are no footprints in the snow of the several people who participated in the event.
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When Donovan is in Berlin for the prisoner exchange, it's obviously bitterly cold. When he comes home and greets his wife on the front porch of their home, the leaves are on the trees and it's obviously summer.
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As Hoffman is following Donovan during the rainstorm, the side of Donovan's body that is wet switches from the left, to the right, and back to the left.
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When Mary is standing in her kitchen holding the refrigerator door open, she has a bunch of bananas propped up against the door in her right hand. In the first shot, the bananas are curved outward toward the camera and to the right, and are yellow. In the next camera shot, they are curved inward, to the left, and are green & yellow.
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When Donovan and Abel first meet, Donovan's business card changes sides depending on camera position. When the camera is behind Donovan, the card is on the right side of the other papers (from Donovan's point of view). When the camera is behind Abel, the card is again on the right side of the other papers (from Abel's point of view).
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When the FBI chases after Abel in the subway, the train leaves the station twice.
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The man in the background, working on the front of the U2, removes the pencil from his ear three times as the scene shifts to different perspectives.
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When James Donovan gets into Vogel's vehicle it is covered in snow. A few moments later as the car is being driven, no snow is present on the vehicle.
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When Gary Powers is approaching and getting settled into the U2 before takeoff, the weather is cloudy. At takeoff, the weather is nearly clear and sunny.
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As the police pull Donovan and Vogel over at the checkpoint, the police car and Vogel's car roll to a stop. As the scene shifts to face the two cars from the front, Vogel's car is stopped but the police car is still rolling forward.
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Rudolf Abel and James Donovan are seen from outside their holding cell while listening to Shostakovich and Abel is smoking a cigarette while the thumb of the same hand is resting against his face.

As the the scene transitions to the interior of the cell, Abel is no longer resting his thumb against his face as his hand has moved well away from the exterior scene.
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The station where the FBI is chasing Rudolf Abel is shown as Broad Street station by the signs on the platform, but the sign on the entrance to the station from the street calls it Court Street station.
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Crew or equipment visible 

As Donovan goes back into his house after the shooting, the shadow of the camera is visible on the left.
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Errors in geography 

When Abel's case is taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, the exterior shown is actually that of New York County Supreme Courthouse located at 60 Centre Street in Lower Manhattan.
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Pacific Bell telephone signs seen in scenes set on the East Coast of the United States.
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Donovan observes a failed escape attempt at the Berlin Wall, while riding an S-Bahn train back to West Berlin. The escapees are climbing the outer wall to reach a West Berlin street. At that time, the Stadtbahn was the only overground rapid transit service connecting East and West Berlin.The Stadtbahn-line crossed the border between the British and the Soviet zone at the bridge above the Berlin-Spandau Ship Canal. The Wall laid here alongside the Eastern bank of the Berlin-Spandau Ship Canal. So there wasn't any street on the Western side of the wall, but the shipping canal.
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When James Donovan is calling home from Berlin he is near Kino International, this film theater has been built in 1963 and it is actually in East Berlin (movie scene is placed in West Berlin instead)
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When workers were busy closing the wall, East German soldiers were seen in the West Berlin section doing crowd control.
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In the actual mission in which he was shot down, Gary Powers took off from a base in Peshawar, Pakistan. During the takeoff scene in the movie, the Sutter Buttes, volcanic mountains west of Beale AFB in California, are clearly seen in the background.
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At one point Col. Abel is described as pretending to come from Northern England. In fact, he appears to speak English with a Scottish, not a northern English accent.
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Factual errors 

The end titles say that the Soviets never acknowledged Abel as a spy. On the contrary, Rudolf Ivanovich Abel's figure was frequently used as an example of a very successful spy, being able to stay undetected for 8 years in the United States and maintain his silence after being captured. Western journalists were invited to attend Abel's funeral. His gravestone is marked with the KGB crest. Abel's also frequently gave public speeches about the importance of intelligence work. Finally, Abel is portrayed on a series of Soviet stamps dedicated to "Soviet Intelligence officers" together with other well known agents such as Kim Philby and K.T. Molody.
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Francis Gary Powers was not tortured while he was held by the Soviet Union. In fact he was treated very humanely. During his time as a prisoner Powers was allowed to do various activities including knitting a rug.
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In the movie, Francis Gary Powers is portrayed as being an active duty U.S. Air Force lieutenant, but in reality he had left the military in 1956 at the rank of Captain. He then joined the CIA's U-2 program at the civilian grade of GS-12 and was working for them when he was shot down by the Soviets on May1, 1960.
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The suicide needle in the coins issued to U-2 pilots was not smeared with cyanide. This is not nearly toxic enough. Soviet investigators found the substance similar to curare. It is now known to be saxitoxin, an extremely potent natural neurotoxin.
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The flight suit that Gary Powers is wearing is not correct. U-2 pilots wore a partial pressure suit. The U-2 could not handle enough pressure when flying at maximum altitude. The partial pressure suit is tight fitting to supply pressure to the body surface when the air pressure is too low. It has inflatable tubes along the limbs. Later, U-2 pilots wore a full pressure suit, like astronauts wear.
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In a Checkpoint Charlie scene in Berlin, the street sign "Friedrichstrasse" is seen. It should be "Friedrichstraße" instead. Spelling "ß" as "ss" is only done in the case of the former not being available due to keyboard layout or other language restrictions.
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Francis Gary Powers' U2 spy plane was not hit directly by one of the nine surface to air missiles launched at it. A missile detonated approximately 200 yards away from the plane. The debris from the explosion hit the plane causing it do go down. The missile was designed this way to increase the likelihood of hitting its target.
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During the U2 crash scene, Powers finally gets away from the cockpit and is seen plummeting towards Earth. He then narrowly escapes being hit by sections of the disintegrating aircraft. But the plummeting plane would have already been ahead of Powers so his narrow escape from debris could not have taken place.
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The Berlin wall was brought up in the early morning hours (12AM - 6AM) of 13 August 1961. It was brought up unsuspectingly to the public and thus not many people viewed the construction. However the film shows that scene to have sunlight, snow and quite a few people observed it.
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By the time the East Germans built the actual brick and mortar wall, they were firmly in control of the people. There was no one running up and down The Wall looking for escape holes.
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Further on the claim at the end of the film that Abel was never acknowledged as a spy in the USSR, in the beginning of the 1968 Soviet film 'Dead Season' (Myortvyy Sezon) Abel addressed the audience as a veteran Soviet spy (razvedchik).
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There was no wild scene in court by outraged spectators when Abel was sentenced. In fact, it was a fairly routine 15-minute proceeding. Nor was the 30-year sentence controversial, because the government did not ask for the death penalty but rather "a substantial sentence."
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When Donovan is introduced to "Mr. Dulles", the reference is to CIA Director Alan Dulles...NOT his brother Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. There are several erroneous comments about this here.
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In the classroom scene, the children are watching the nuclear warning film, "Duck and Cover." Although one shot includes Bert the Turtle from that film the rest of the shots of houses being destroyed and nuclear tests are not from "Duck and Cover."
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In the film, the exchange takes place at 5:30 a.m. Berlin time but in reality, according to the official press release, the exchange occurred at 8:52 a.m. Berlin time.
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Polygraph test answers are "yes" or "no" only. Explanations on questions for the results happen after the exam, not during.
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During an interview about this movie with Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg said that the Donovans had moved out of the house and into an apartment when the Donovan house had been shot at by some people. He said he kept the Donovans in the house for the whole movie because it seemed more American. Spielberg also said only one bullet hit the house in the actual shooting and not the five or six that he filmed.
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In the movie the pilots are introduced to the U-2 plane and trained in Peshawar, Pakistan. This is incorrect as Powers and other CIA pilots were trained to fly the U-2 in the US (at Watertown Strip, Nevada) and Powers was based in Turkey, flying U-2s, for several years prior to the 1960 flight. Powers flew out to Pakistan only days prior to his overflight attempt.
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On top of the Donovan family TV is a control for the outside antenna rotator. Right behind it is a set of rabbit ears indoor antenna. There is no reason for both, either one or the other. The rotator control also makes an appearance on one of the tables holding Abel's radio equipment, but this could have been used for his communications.
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Although Abel translates the Russian phrase that he calls Donovan as "standing man", a more accurate translation of it is "stoic man".
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A US nickle (5 cent piece) cannot be made magnetic. It could not have been attached magnetically to the metal park bench.
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After the U-2 incident Donovan is in the office of the Secretary of State, to be told of the spy swapping proposal. He greets the Secretary as "Mr. Dulles". President Dwight Eisenhower's first Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, died in 1959. When the U-2 plane was shot down in 1960, Dulles' successor, Christian Herter, held the job. The Abel for Powers exchange was approved by President Kennedy late in 1961, when the Secretary of State was Dean Rusk.
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Miscellaneous 

Near the end, Abel's portrait of Donovan, with the reflection of light off the portrait shows a perfectly smooth paper surface like that of a color laser printer printout and not the strokes\rough surface of a manual painting.
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Revealing mistakes 

When Abel is painting his self-portrait, he is carefully studying the reflection of his left profile in the mirror (i.e. he is looking slightly right). However he has actually painted himself looking left. He is also wearing a different color shirt (but this could be explained by the fact that Abel would most likely have painted the portrait over several days).
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When Abel is given a cigarette by James Donovan in the interrogation room, he is seen inhaling the cigarette but he never exhaled it.
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See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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