Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Spotlight on Cinema- OUR MAN IN HAVANA
Brought to you by the same team behind the great 1949 classic "The Third Man," writer Graham Greene and director Carol Reed once again fashion a wickedly funny look at the world of espionage in pre-Fidel Castro Cuba.
Alec Guinness plays a British vacuum cleaner salesman living in Havana when he is enlisted by an English spy, played Noel Coward, to be an informant in the region. Needing the money, Guinness reluctantly accepts the job and finds himself in ridiculous situations. When the spy agency headed up by Ralph Richardson don't receive any reports from their man, Guinness gives false accounts of a secret atomic bomb in the works. He sends the secret agents drawings of the supposed weapon...inspired by the vacuum cleaners. Now Guinness's is in deep trouble. There's even a plot to assassinate him which leads to some clever and funny results.
Like the aforementioned "Third Man," "Our Man" contain moments of intrigue mixed with a sly sense of humor. Guinness' comedic work can be best described as Bob Hope meets E.M. Forster. Classically subdued, but not without feelings of cowardice, the scene on the balcony when his daughter approaches left me in stitches. Added to the mix a great cast including Ernie Kovacs as the military/police muscle makes this a gem.