October 28th, 2007
I couldn’t find a poster for this. Based on a novel by Graham Greene, and shot from his screenplay, it stars Alec Guinness, Burl Ives, Maureen O’Hara, and Ernie Kovacs. It was shot in Cuba after Castro’s revolution, but it is about Battista’s Havana.
I haven’t read the novel, but I understand that this is played a little more for laughs. Guinness is a vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana who is recruited to spy for the Brits. Not knowing what to do, but enjoying the big paycheques, he makes up some fake recruits and secret missile installations - which look strangely like vacuum cleaners. (These are Fifties vacuum cleaners, and like the cars of the time, they have tail fins.)
The movie gets darker when someone is killed as a result of his deception, but mostly the movie is a gentle, bemused trip through the cold war thinking of the Fifties. The acting is great and the script is clever, and it’s fun to get a look at fun-loving, debauched pre-Castro Cuba.
This is a classic. You should see it if you haven’t.