The Tamarind Seed (1974)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5

/USA, 1974, , , Screenplay by , based on the novel by Cinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by .

plays a civil servant working for Her Majesty’s secret service who is sent on vacation to Barbados by her bosses as a way to help her deal with the death of her husband and the disaster of her affair with a married agent. Almost immediately she catches the eye of a handsome Russian diplomat () who works at the embassy in London, and while she has no intention of falling into his arms, she does allow him to keep her company at lunch and on romantic drives around the island. Their affair causes a stir back home, with both the Russian and British intelligence agencies wondering about what it is that they’re up to: is it coincidence that they met and are having a fling, or is she selling secrets, or perhaps he is planning to defect? When their vacation is over, she returns to find men in her apartment loaded with questions, while he discovers a new secretary in his office that he is pretty sure was put there to keep an eye on him. A tangled web of intrigue gets more complicated as the British are also trying to uncover a leak within their own ranks, while Sharif’s continuing to try and date Andrews while giving his bosses a cover story about recruiting her to keep them off his back ends up endangering his life. Blake Edwards has all the talent necessary to pull off the style that this collection of elements demands, sort of a James Bond film combined with Doctor Zhivago, and there’s a sly joke here about Sharif having to literally end the cold War just to get the prim Miss Andrews into bed.  As always, Edwards allows his magnificently talented wife to be both classy and sexual at the same time, something many directors were afraid to combine, but her chemistry with Sharif is so magnificent that it tips the film’s balance and only makes the rest of the film that much more difficult to endure.  Diplomats and spies shouting to each other on telephones or in oak-panelled offices isn’t nearly as entertaining as the stars’ intellectual repartee over tropical drinks, a subplot involving and lacks the lead characters’ bite and the movie is without a doubt ten to fifteen minutes too long, but with that all said the glamour of the stars leaves a good impression.

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