Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The Quiller Memorandum

1966 - Dir: Michael Anderson
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 28th February, 2009
Spy movies were very much in vogue in the mid 1960s. The British Bond bandwagon was gathering speed, the Matt Helm series was trying to keep pace on the other side of the Atlantic and Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer was finding his feet in “The Ipcress File”. “The Quiller Memorandum”, though a thriller featuring spies, is a completely different kettle of fish. The film stands out from most of its contemporaries for its dreamlike, ritualistic, almost fairytale atmosphere. This derives largely from the cryptic dialogue by Harold Pinter and the stylish imagery supplied by director Michael Anderson and cinematographer Erwin Hillier.
There’s one other factor that makes this film stand out from the spy films of the time - while they focused on the Cold War between the West (mainly America and Great Britain) and the Communist threat from the East (mainly the Soviet Union), The Quiller Memorandum went back to an old enemy for its villain - the Nazis in Germany. Based on a novel by Trevor Dudley Smith (of Flight Of The Phoenix fame) The Quiller Memorandum takes place in mid-'60s Berlin, where Nazis new and old are attempting to make a comeback two decades after the Third Reich was defeated.
There are splendid performances from George Segal and Alec Guinness (perhaps limbering up for Smiley) and a haunting score from John Barry (who was simultaneously concocting much more energetic stuff for the Bond Movies)
We dedicate this showing of The Quiller Memorandum to the memory of Harold Pinter, who died on Christmas Eve 2008

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