Tag Archives: Cambridge spy ring

A Week In Film #047: Getting spooked

Philby Burgess & Maclean

Philby, Burgess And Maclean
Pretty decent 1977 TVM, with Anthony Bate (Lacon from Tinker, Tailor) as Philby, here the mastermind of the Cambridge spy ring. Derek Jacobi sets the bar for Guy Burgess flamboyancy, Michael Culver is understated as Donald Maclean. Obviously there is no Anthony Blunt, as this was made in 1977 and he hadn’t been publicly unmasked yet.

Blunt: The Fourth Man title screen

Blunt: The Fourth Man
This time round Anthony Blunt is the top spook, engineering the escape of Maclean, and getting stitched up by Burgess’s decision to leg it too. Ian Richardson is impressive in the title role, Anthony Hopkins is a hammy Burgess, Michael Williams a nervy, backboneless Goronwy Rees. Philby is nowhere to be seen.

A Question Of Attribution title screen

A Question Of Attribution
Probably the best of the Cambridge spy ring films, with a less literal interpretation of the facts – writer Alan Bennett plays a little loose with the chronology for a start – but dramatically it is most satisfying.

James Fox plays Blunt, resisting over years the attempts of various MI5 interrogators to debrief him, whilst enjoying his work as Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures. David Calder is excellent as the sly, self-deprecating but very patient suburban spook sent out to rattle his cage. The scenes between Blunt and the Queen (Prunella Scales) are very enjoyable.

Mona Lisa title screen

Mona Lisa
Bob Hoskins as a recently released con given a bit of driving work by slimy crime boss Michael Caine; Cathy Tyson opens his eyes. A fine film.