The last motion picture made by Montgomery Clift prior to his death, Defector provides a part that allows him to substitute action of body and mind for the immobility of facial expression that clouded this fine actor’s performances during his last years. His taut, troubled face is perfect for the role of a scientist pushed into espionage by his own country and almost erased from it by enemy agents.
Levy and Robert Guenette’s collaboration on an adaptation of Paul Thomas’s The Spy has gone for ‘suspense’ at the sacrifice of logic. Just plain logical loopholes appear that may escape most viewers but will disturb some.
Most of the intellectual byplay is between Clift, as an American scientist, and Hardy Kruger, as the German-born Russian agent given the assignment of getting Clift to defect. The physical action comes from Clift’s evasion of the security police and his attempt to escape from East Germany. Kruger makes an excellent contrast, in his cool behavior, to Clift’s nervousness.