Our Man In Havana (1959)

CAROL REED

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

United Kingdom, 1959.  Kingsmead Productions, Columbia Pictures Corporation.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

In case The Third Man and The End of The Affair have you convinced that writer Graham Greene was a sober fellow, this wonderful black comedy should provide a wider perspective. Alec Guinness plays a British vacuum salesman in Cuba just before Castro’s revolution who is approached by a British spy () to work for the Queen as her man in Havana and Guinness, needing the money to give his daughter the ritzy country-club life of her dreams, accepts. Trouble is, he has no idea how to be a spy, so instead of actually recruiting agents and running missions, he completely invents a profile for himself that includes false contacts and drawings of constructions that don’t exist. The cover-up becomes trickier when head office sends him a secretary () to work for him. Perfectly scripted by Greene and directed expertly by the marvelous Carol Reed, this film is also notable for its filming location: Castro allowed the film to be made in Havana because it cast Battista’s Cuba in a negative enough light (the filming was actually completed just months before the country became an ally of the Soviet Union).

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Picture-Comedy

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