Throughout the week, Edinburgh Filmhouse will screen cinematic adaptations of Graham Greene’s spy stories, with brief introductions by University of Edinburgh academics, including Programme Director of the MSc in Film Studies, Dr David Sorfa.
Ministry of Fear
Mon 18 May, 8:30pm
Fritz Lang’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s angst-ridden 1943 novel downplays the vertiginous play of multiple identities and lost memories that suffuse Greene’s paranoiac wrong man thriller. Lang presents a film noir version of wartime London, replete with stark shadows, nefarious blondes and incessant rain. The film places more emphasis on love and shoot-outs than Greene’s rumination on guilt and pity but, as with any good spy story, missing microfilms are present and correct in both.
The screening will be introduced by Dr David Sorfa (University of Edinburgh).
The Quiet American
Tue 19 May, 8:30pm
Greene’s novel caused outrage in the USA for its critique of CIA involvement in the French War in Vietnam, and Mankiewicz’s adaptation provoked equal controversy for its revision of the plot to stress American political idealism. Thomas Fowler (Michael Redgrave) is the 50-something world-weary English journalist competing with Alden Pyle (Audie Murphy), the young idealistic ‘quiet American’ (and CIA agent?), for possession of the most inscrutable secret in book and film, as nations and ideologies vie for Vietnam.
The screening will be introduced by Dr Simon Cooke (University of Edinburgh).
Our Man in Havana
Thu 21 May, 6:15pm
Wormold (Alec Guinness), a vacuum-cleaner salesman in pre-Revolution Cuba, agrees to act as an agent for the British Secret Service to fund the expensive habits of his daughter. On the advice of a friend, Dr Hasselbacher (Burl Ives), Wormold makes up a network of agents, sending back sketches of invented military installations based on his own vacuum cleaners – until the plot darkens. Greene adapted his own novel to make a film that is both parody of secret bureaucracy (represented by Noel Coward’s insouciant spymaster) and exploration of loyalty and betrayal.
The screening will be introduced by Prof Penny Fielding (University of Edinburgh).