Devlin (Cary Grant) to join a group of former Nazis living in South America, a group whose leaders include Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), with whom Alicia has a history. Brian De Palma kicked off this long-running, Tom Cruise–starring big-screen adaptation of the ’60s spy show with a Hitchcockian adventure that finds Cruise’s Ethan Hunt wrongly accused of treason and forced to take extreme measure to prove his innocence. In this 1981 thriller directed by Richard Marquand (whose fine work here would him secure a job directing Return of the Jedi a few years later), Sutherland plays “the Needle,” a deep-cover Nazi spy working in World War II England. It’s as if he’d spent a lifetime wondering how the world he grew up in could have been allowed to happen in the first place. The film’s underlying suggestion that spies are just as susceptible to selfishness, prone to mistakes, and likely to lie as anyone lines up nicely with some of the revelations brought to light during the George W. Bush years, and little that’s happened since has made the movie seem less insightful. Melissa McCarthy plays a desk-bound, overlooked CIA agent who unexpectedly gets the call-up after the apparent death of her flashy partner (Jude Law). Set in a post–Cold War climate in which the dissolution of old allegiances has led to corruption and confusion, it’s justly famous for a long, mostly silent mid-film heist sequence. Maybe … but where the ’56 version has some great set pieces, it also features Doris Day singing “Que Sera Sera” approximately 500 times and much looser narrative than the lean original, which forces a married couple (Leslie Banks and Edna Best) to pretend nothing is wrong after a nefarious organization (that includes Peter Lorre) kidnaps their daughter. His work would be adapted many times over the years, and both Ritt’s chilly direction and Burton’s hollowed-out performance set examples others would strive to match. But Cameron has as few equals as an action director as Schwarzenegger has as an action star, so the pairing works, even if their ambitions don’t stretch much further than blowing up whole chunks of the Florida Keys. operatives and the film, directed by Malcolm Lee and based on characters created by co-writer John Ridley, mixes easy jokes with smart, barbed gags about the insidious persistence of racism. The film that brilliantly captures the crisscrossed loyalties and hidden agendas of le Carré’s fiction — and the ways they are more likely to play out in the dull, institutional buildings of postwar Britain than in glamorous locales. If anything, Bird over-delivered, transporting a gift for dynamic action scenes from his animated films to create the best action movie of this century, from a film-opening prison break through a nausea-inducing trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa and beyond. (Mendes’s 2015 follow-up, Spectre, on the other hand, proved that a similar combination of elements could fall apart.). Why so few showed up to see it at the time remains a mystery, but it deserves to find a second life. When Connery came back a few years later after Lazenby walked away, he was stuck with the so-so Diamonds Are Forever, making it that much harder not to ponder what might have been. Pierce Brosnan didn’t always get the best material as Bond, but the shadow of Bond helped make him a more compelling presence. As entertaining as Hitchcock’s ’30s spy movies are, this Hollywood effort plumbs emotional depths that Hitchcock wasn’t even attempting to explore in the previous decade. Robert Redford’s history with the spy movie has made casting him a kind of shortcut for anyone wishing to channel a particular vein of paranoid, post-Watergate thrillers (more on this below). Coburn returned for the sequel In Like Flint the following year, and anyone who enjoys this nonsense would also do well to check out the Dean Martin–starring Matt Helm series, which kicked off with The Silencers the same year. In the first of his several outings as Palmer, Michael Caine is put-upon and bogged down with paperwork. It’s been imitated to death by lesser films in the years that followed, but this first appearance still has a disarming spark. ), A kind of mirror-image Bond, author Len Deighton’s Harry Palmer is the working-class embodiment of everything grubby and unglamorous in the espionage world. Steven Spielberg explores the psychic toll of living in the moral murk of espionage via the story of a group of Mossad agents charged with finding and killing the Palestinian terrorists behind the massacre of members of the Israeli team at the 1972 Munich Olympics. It’s a fantastic plot, but Caine’s tough, smart performance and the no-nonsense direction from John MacKenzie (The Long Good Friday) keep the film tense and believable. Played by Walter Matthau in this fun send-up of Cold War intrigue, he looks disheveled, acts impatient, and appears always on the verge of packing it all in and going home. Myers’s script draws on a deep knowledge of a bygone era and builds to a heartfelt consideration of what’s been lost as we moved away from the ideas that fueled that decade — if not the outmoded, deeply sexist realities of the actual ’60s. 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Ingrid Bergman stars as Alicia Huberman, the daughter of a Nazi spy coaxed by T.R. Both very much a product of the early ʼ90s and years ahead of its time, the Phil Alden Robinson–directed film is set at a moment when the former Soviet Union no longer seemed like much of a threat, but predicts a future in which information would be a kind of currency and a single keystroke could bring down a government. Dave Chappelle and Chi McBride are among the other B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. Alec Baldwin plays Ryan as a man who’s more brain than brawn, and who’s frequently terrified and faking it as he attempts to avert catastrophe by convincing others that a rogue Soviet general (Sean Connery) in command of a state-of-the-art submarine is attempting to defect to America, not start a nuclear war by blowing up the East Coast. With its third entry, the James Bond series found the formula it would repeat without really topping for years to come. The film stays light, but Ritchie brings excitement and flair to the action scenes. This was Hitchcock’s second Hollywood movie, and he earned some criticism in Britain for remaining abroad rather than returning to support the war effort. Hitchcock’s fixation on the falsely accused found a natural home in the spy genre, as did his technical gifts as a crafter of suspense sequences, which explains why his name turns up on this list more than any other director’s. This category has the following 6 subcategories, out of 6 total. You may be able to find the same … Few Cold War betrayals stung as sharply as that of Kim Philby, a British intelligence officer who worked as a double agent for the Soviets for decades, then defected after being found out. A Spooky Guide to All the New Horror Streaming This October. Until Christopher McQuarrie followed Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation with Mission: Impossible — Fallout, the series had worked through a rotating series of high-profile directors, some of whom fared better than others. A Coen brothers riff on the spy genre, Burn After Reading is filled with self-mythologizing drunks, unskilled opportunists, and borderline morons. He’s cheekily charming even when dropped in the most ridiculous situations — he even mostly keeps his dignity while wearing clown makeup in Octopussy — and though the Moore years’ lows are very low, their highs are considerable. Set largely aboard a train, it finds Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) facing a sanity-challenging scenario when she discovers that an elderly recent acquaintance has seemingly disappeared as they traveled together on a transcontinental train journey, a disappearance others seem not to have noticed. Between making The Man Who Knew Too Much and leaving for Hollywood at the end of the ’30s, Hitchcock returned repeatedly to the spy thriller. “Because I was so young when war broke out,” he told HuffPost in 2015, “seeing fighting and bombing and ruins and grenades and dead bodies and planes going down in flames seemed like the norm.” It’s not hard to make a connection between that upbringing and a career filled with images of casual brutality, but it’s unfair to suggest that Verhoeven ever depicted violence as normal. With that said, let’s begin with a pair of spies at the beginning of their careers then work our way toward more shadowy terrain.
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