Category Archives: Espionage

THE TAMARIND SEED (1971) by Evelyn Anthony

Evelyn Anthony (pen-name of Evelyn Ward-Thomas) turned 86 this month. She began writing historical romances in the Coronation year of 1953 but by the late 1960s had switched to topical suspense mixed with romance. The Tamarind Seed is a perfect example … Continue reading

Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Barbados, Blake Edwards, Cold War, Espionage, Evelyn Anthony, London, Paris, Spy movies | 38 Comments

EXPO 58 by Jonathan Coe

Jonathan Coe is one of my favourite authors, a witty and wise chronicler of British mores, foibles and eccentricities who, in terms of book sales, is apparently appreciated even more on the Continent than he is at home – but … Continue reading

Posted in Alfred Hitchcock, Brussels, Cold War, Espionage, Jonathan Coe | 18 Comments

SPYSHIP (1980) by Tom Keene with Brian Haynes

This topical Cold War yarn about a sunken ship marked the fiction debut of two TV journalists. The premise is based on the true case of the Gaul trawler, which sank in February 1974 off the north coast of Norway, … Continue reading

Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Cold War, Espionage, James Mitchell | 23 Comments

Callan (1974) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

In the 1970s British cinema was at a particularly low ebb following the departure of the American majors. The number of productions fell precipitously and confidence ebbed away. As a result, for the next few years British cinemas seemed to … Continue reading

Posted in 2013 Book to Movie Challenge, Cold War, David Callan, Espionage, James Mitchell, Tuesday's Overlooked Film, TV Spinoff | 18 Comments

A MAGNUM FOR SCHNEIDER (1969) by James Mitchell

David Callan is a very reluctant spy who undertakes nasty jobs for a black ops unit of MI6 known only as ‘The Section.’ An exceptional marksman with a deep-rooted (and usually well-founded) distrust of authority, his often lethal assignments do little to … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, David Callan, Espionage, James Mitchell, Novelisation, Ostara Publishing | Tagged | 29 Comments

Joseph Losey’s crime movies

In the 1940s and early 1950s Joseph Losey established himself as a new director of rare intelligence and technical dexterity in Hollywood. His promise however was curtailed by the McCarthy witch hunts that destroyed the lives of hundreds of men … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Film Noir, James Hadley Chase, Joseph Losey, London, New York, Noir on Tuesday, Paris, Stanley Ellin, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 23 Comments

DICK BARTON: THE CASE OF THE VANISHING HOUSE (1978) by Alan Radnor

In the 1940s my mum and her sister used to rush home every school night to listen to the next exciting adventure of Dick Barton – Special Agent. Broadcast by the BBC from 6.45 to 7PM, the radio serials debuted … Continue reading

Posted in 2013 Book to Movie Challenge, Cold War, Dick Barton, Espionage, Friday's Forgotten Book, Hammer Studios, London, Novelisation, Radio, Scene of the crime | 43 Comments

Top 20 TV Spies

Not everyone agrees, but for me the spy story is definitely a subset of the crime and mystery genre. However, tales of espionage do come in all shapes and sizes: from contemporary to historical, deadly serious like Tinker Tailor Soldier … Continue reading

Posted in Espionage, George Smiley, John le Carre, Len Deighton, London, Mexico, Robert Culp, Rome, Scene of the crime, The Sandbaggers | 61 Comments

The Mind Benders (1963) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

Dirk Bogarde is the troubled scientist at the centre of this suspense drama combining espionage, brainwashing, sensory deprivation chambers and domestic navel gazing that often feels like a rich inverted pudding, light on the bottom and heavy on top. This … Continue reading

Posted in Basil Dearden, Cold War, DVD Review, Espionage, Oxford, Scene of the crime, Spy movies, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 20 Comments

Top 20 Spy movies

The release of Ben Affleck’s smart historical satire Argo, based loosely on the true extraction by the CIA and Canadian officials of six American Embassy staff members out of Tehran in 1980, made me reflect on the spy genre as … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, Adam Hall, Alfred Hitchcock, Amnesia, Billy Wilder, Brian de Palma, Cold War, Elleston Trevor, Eric Ambler, Espionage, Film Noir, George Smiley, Ian Fleming, James Bond, John Frankenheimer, John le Carre, Len Deighton, London, Michael Powell, New York, Paris, Quiller, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | 76 Comments

Telefon (1977)

This adaptation of the 1975 spy novel by Walter Wager has a great central gimmick and features the unlikely pairing of granite-faced action hero Charles Bronson and high-class beauty Lee Remick under the take-no-prisoners direction of Don Siegel. It often … Continue reading

Posted in Amnesia, Cold War, Espionage, Los Angeles, Moscow, Scene of the crime, Spy movies, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged | 36 Comments

The Blake Edwards mysteries

In a career spanning six decades, writer-director Blake Edwards (1922-2010) really mixed it up, making almost every conceivable type of film. There were westerns (Panhandle and Wild Rovers), musicals (Darling Lili and Victor Victoria), dark drama (Days of Wine and … Continue reading

Posted in Blake Edwards, Cold War, Espionage, Evelyn Anthony, Hollywood, London, Michael Crichton, Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer, Paris, Police procedural, Private Eye, Robert Bloch, Rome, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Screwball, Tuesday's Overlooked Film, TV Cops | 45 Comments

Skyfall – five star movie review

Yes, the title of this post does rather give things away – I loved the new Bond movie. Have you been to see Skyfall yet? You really should. In the UK the new 007 adventure, the first in 4 years, came … Continue reading

Posted in Espionage, Five Star review, James Bond, London, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | Tagged | 40 Comments

Fifty shades of James Bond

Tomorrow is ‘International James Bond Day’, not actually a national holiday yet but I’m sure it’ll catch on eventually. It’s part of a coordinated media blitz celebrating the 50 years on screen of ‘the world’s favourite secret agent’. I’m starting … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, 'In praise of ...', Espionage, Ian Fleming, James Bond, Spy movies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Spaceways (1953)

An engaging if curious genre hybrid, this is a patchwork movie combining Cold War espionage, a murder mystery and two love triangles in a science fiction setting – and all on the tightest of budgets. Unpretentious and fun, this British … Continue reading

Posted in Cold War, Espionage, Hammer Studios, Science Fiction, Spy movies, Terence Fisher, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged , | 24 Comments

I Spy (1965-68)

In 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson bravely intoned, “We shall overcome” and enacted legislation finally enfranchising black American voters, knowing full-well that he was handing the South to the Republicans for decades to come. Within a month the Watts riots … Continue reading

Posted in Espionage, Greece, Hong Kong, Japan, Los Angeles, Mexico, Robert Culp, Rome, Scene of the crime | 34 Comments

No Way Out (1987)

This movie was hit in its day but 25 years after its initial release I’m still not convinced it has received the critical respect it deserves. A smart Cold War thriller – with 80s heartthrobs Kevin Costner and Sean Young … Continue reading

Posted in Espionage, Film Noir, Kenneth Fearing, Tuesday's Overlooked Film, Washington DC | 33 Comments

James Bond teases in SKYFALL

Well, the Leveson inquiry continues and the appalling Murdochs and their apparatchiks have yet to fold, but at least we now have a couple of proper teasers for the new Bond movie. First there is the poster, which displays very … Continue reading

Posted in Espionage, James Bond, London, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | 1 Comment

A is for … Amnesia

Kerrie’s Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog has returned for 2012. Each week those participating will post a review, author biog or a thematic item in which either the first letter of the title … Continue reading

Posted in 2012 Alphabet of Crime, Agatha Christie, Amnesia, Cornell Woolrich, Crime Fiction Alphabet, Ed McBain, Ellery Queen, Espionage, Film Noir, James Bond, LP Davies, Margaret Millar, Patrick Quentin | 29 Comments

CALL FOR THE DEAD (1961) by John le Carré

The recent film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré, with its impressive rogues gallery of character actors and a mesmerising central turn by Gary Oldman as George Smiley, has re-ignited interest in the series of Cold … Continue reading

Posted in Columbo, Espionage, George Smiley, John le Carre, London, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | 8 Comments

John le Carré at 80

David Cornwell, aka John le Carré, turned 80 yesterday and celebrations are definitely in order. Not only is the feature film adaptation of his 1974 novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy a roaring critical and box office success but he is still publishing new work that is attracting praise from all quarters. A master of the espionage story, he has branched well beyond the constraints of genre fiction to produce work that in its topicality, lucid prose style and in its charting of the decay of the late and unlamented British Empire can certainly bear comparison with that of his great literary mentor and inspiration, Graham Greene. Of his most recent work, The Constant Gardener (2001), a trenchant conspiracy thriller and exposé of the ethics big pharma, he may well have produced his finest work to date, though there is a real bounty to choose from. Continue reading

Posted in 'In praise of ...', Espionage, George Smiley, John le Carre | Leave a comment

WHO ? (1958) by Algis Budrys

This is a Cold War espionage tale like no other. It begins in no man’s land on the border between East and West as one side prepares to return an enemy agent back to the other side. But things are … Continue reading

Posted in Espionage | 2 Comments

DVD Review: HARRY’S GAME

Ex-ITN correspondent Gerald Seymour first came to prominence with his IRA novel Harry’s Game and its success was for once enhanced rather than tarnished by its TV adaptation. This dynamic manhunt thriller, faithfully adapted by Semour himself and adroitly directed by … Continue reading

Posted in DVD Review, Espionage, Gerald Seymour, The Sandbaggers | Leave a comment

Z is for … Michael Bar-Zohar’s THE THIRD TRUTH (1972)

The 2011 Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog has reached the end of the line with the letter Z – and both my nominations this week, I am proud to say, are from author … Continue reading

Posted in Crime Fiction Alphabet, Espionage, New York, Paris | 8 Comments