The Kremlin Letter DVD
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Directed by John Huston
Produced in 1970
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - American film
An astonishing cast fills Huston's elaborate cold war espionage thriller, which emphasises the dark side of the game. It's a one-of-a-kind film, says James Oliver.
John Huston never could resist a shaggy dog story and this convoluted Cold War caper is one of his most elaborate. The titular epistle is a top secret document that could start World War Three; Western intelligence thinks the Soviets have it and dispatch a team of ace agents to grab it; once ensconced in Moscow, the spies go to elaborate – and morally dubious – lengths to discover its whereabouts.
Like so much of the Huston's greatest work, this is an uneven film: the plot is labyrinthine and the tone fluctuates wildly, beginning as a mode-ish espionage romp before diving into deeper water. With its emphasis on the darker side of the spy game, it can be seen as a counterweight to the popular fantasies peddled by James Bond: our cheerful heroes are cheerfully unheroic, indulging in blackmail, drug peddling and prostitution.
The Kremlin Letter is not one of Huston's best-known films but it deserves praise for its ambition and cynicism. It's also worth it for the improbable sight of George Sanders in drag.
James Oliver on 21st June 2011
Author of 182 reviews
Described by legendary French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville as 'magisterial', and featuring an astonishing cast including Orson Welles, Max von Sydow, George Sanders, Bibi Andersson, and Richard Boone, The Kremlin Letter is a black-hearted spy thriller directed and co-written by the legendary John Huston.
A potentially catastrophic diplomatic letter from the CIA must be recovered at all costs. Drafted in is Rone (Patrick O'Neal), a young agent with a photographic memory, to make his way through a treacherous maze of shadowy cities and shady characters.
Based on the acclaimed novel by Noel Behn, drawn from his work within the US Army Counterintelligence Corps, The Kremlin Letter is a brutal, level-headed examination of espionage, leaving behind any trace of gadgetry or glamour.
Publisher: Eureka / Masters of Cinema
Length: 116 mins
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 widescreen
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 25th July 2011
Cat No: EKA40335
Subtitles: English HoH
- New high-definition transfer.