The Spy Who’s Coming Soon

Eyebrows raised — I have two projects finished/more-or-less finished at Arrow, and I can’t talk about what they are as they’re not announced, but now I have a project at Eureka! Masters of Cinema which we start editing this afternoon but which is already advertised — a video essay on THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD.

Lots of added value in this one — after making a feature doc, going back to simple video essays that are just me talking seems unsatisfying, so this one will feature location shots from three different countries (more if I can get them) guest voices (at least five) and whatever else we can dream up in the edit.

So that’s why you’ve been seeing a bit of Martin Ritt (pictured, with a shadowy Burton) on here.

6 Responses to “The Spy Who’s Coming Soon”

  1. That’s great news. Pardon me for repurposing something I wrote on a friend’s FB page, but just wanted to share some thoughts on Ritt – I’ve recently seen SOUNDER and PARIS BLUES, and they’ve made me want to dig deeper- been enjoying your commentary on Ritt films lately. I have a feeling he’s overdue for a re-evaluation, and hopefully the upcoming Eureka! blu will be part of that process…

    I’m belatedly coming to the idea that maybe he was a great American director, whose reputation has been hobbled by the notion that “social issues” films can’t be any good (it’s also true that there are some scenes in his films that play like the stereotype of “social issues” films – I watched SOUNDER recently, and the scene where the white lady tells off the Sheriff after he’s caught her rifling through his file cabinet sticks out like a sore, and probably woke, thumb).

    Aside from that scene, though, SOUNDER is a pretty great film, with a visual expressiveness you don’t get from square, pass-the-vegetables social issues movies (John Alonzo had a real feel for landscape). It’s been forever since I’ve seen them, but I remember THE SPY WHO etc. and NORMA RAE being really good too, along with what I saw of HUD – and the other film I’ve seen of his recently, PARIS BLUES, is definitely square and minor, but between Ellington, Newman, Poitier and Armstrong, it has more than enough cool to coast on, and Joanne Woodward’s performance is a genuine thing of beauty- she takes a type and digs a real character out of it.

    Am intrigued to catch up with THE MOLLY MAGUIRES, EDGE OF THE CITY, FIVE BRANDED WOMEN (what a cast in that one!) and THE GREAT WHITE HOPE – and a couple others besides. I’m guessing you could put together a box set of five or six films that would put many directors to shame.

  2. Ritt reckoned Five Branded Women was a poor film and one he made for money — but he could be wrong about its qualities.

    Just watched Pete & Tillie and it avoids most of the social issues it could’ve shoehorned in, and is pretty delightful, with a great pairing in Matthau and Burnett (Carol, not T-Bone). Excited about seeing more, especially The Molly Maguires.

    Ritt’s messaging is occasionally heavy-handed, his dramaturgy likewise, but he is intermittently quite subtle and graceful and even the rough edges are mostly vigorous. Hud. it seems to be, is a rare Hollywood movie that never tells you what it’s about, drops a hint at the end, and let’s you make up your mind about the experience in retrospect.

  3. The one detail of Spy that always tickles me is the corner shop bit. Now, I am Irish, and the film was partly shot here. Exteriors in the Dublin area of Smithfield as Berlin, and some interiors at Ardmore. Now, the corner shop is clearly a set at Ardmore.
    Well, USA biscuits, Chef sauce, Irish Jacob’s biscuits with the shamrock logo…. All stuff not sold across the sea in general service newsagents.

  4. Tony Williams Says:

    Well done, David. Please inform me when you are finished as I’m interested in seeing your work and will contact Eureka for a review copy.

  5. Funny! And good information. The shoot is a little mysterious, with numerous scenes apparently shot but then deleted, and some locations hard to pin down. Hordern’s park bench assignation with Burton seems to have been shot twice, once in Battersea Park, London, and once in Dublin Zoo, for mysterious reasons. Interesting that they went to the trouble of shipping Bernard Lee and Warren Mitchell to Ireland for a day or two’s filming.

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