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Eye of the Needle

As a study of a ruthless, essentially unsympathetic killer, working for the wrong side, Eye of the Need le [from the 1978 best seller by Ken Follett] perhaps resembles The Day of the Jackal. Similarly, this tale of subtle intrigue and skilled maneuvers works rather better in print than on film.

With:
Donald Sutherland Kate Nelligan Ian Bannen Christopher Cazenove Philip Martin Brown

As a study of a ruthless, essentially unsympathetic killer, working for the wrong side, Eye of the Need le [from the 1978 best seller by Ken Follett] perhaps resembles The Day of the Jackal. Similarly, this tale of subtle intrigue and skilled maneuvers works rather better in print than on film.

Steely blue-eyed Donald Sutherland is introduced as a low-level British railway functionary in 1940. In prolog, Sutherland is shown murdering his friendly landlady when she discovers him working with a short-wave radio, and newlyweds Kate Nelligan and Christopher Cazenove suffer a horrible auto accident as they speed off on their honeymoon.

Cut to four years later, and Sutherland is soon revealed as perhaps Berlin’s most reliable spy still working undetected within Britain. Armed with photos of a phony airbase in Eastern England, Sutherland makes his way to the aptly named Storm Island to rendezvous with a U-boat, waiting there to take him to Germany.

In the meantime, Nelligan and Cazenove have resettled on the bleak outpost of civilization. Formerly a dashing pilot, the latter has become a bitter paraplegic as a result of the accident, so his beauteous wife readily responds to the mysterious stranger when he temporarily lands in their household.

It’s a good yarn, remindful of some of Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang’s wartime mellers as well as Michael Powell’s 1939 tale of a World War I German agent in Scotland, The Spy in Black.

Eye of the Needle

UK

Production: United Artists/Kings Road. Director Richard Marquand; Producer Stephen Friedman; Screenplay Stanley Mann; Camera Alan Hume; Editor Sean Barton; Music Miklos Rozsa; Art Director Wilfrid Shingleton

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1981. Running time: 111 MIN.

With: Donald Sutherland Kate Nelligan Ian Bannen Christopher Cazenove Philip Martin Brown

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