THE IPCRESS FILE (1965) – Part 1

Podcast Episode

THE IPCRESS FILE (1965) – Part 1

Join Dan and Tom and they take a fresh look into one of the more significant spy movies of the 1960s, The IPCRESS File.

Join Dan and Tom and they take a fresh look into one of the more significant spy movies of the 1960s, The IPCRESS File.

Starring Michael Caine as Harry Palmer, this movie has a lot of Bond connections in staff, including Harry Saltzman as producer!  Great acting, great, gritty spy adventure and based on Len Deighton’s novels.

Looking at what was happening in the world at the time, and key scenes.  Is Harry Palmer at all like James Bond?  Let’s see!

Part 1 of a 2 Part podcast.

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This episode dives into The Ipcress File.   We examine:

  • The relationship of the key people involved with The Ipcress File and the James Bond franchise
  • Harry’s role as a reluctant spy and how that ties into La Femme Nikita and Mission: Impossible.
  • The brain drain of  top British scientists
  • The origins of Harry Palmer’s name
  • Product placement and why the coffee press is in the movie
  • And more …

 

 

 

 


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The Silent Enemy (1958) – A Thunderball Inspiration?

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The Silent Enemy (1958) – A Thunderball Inspiration?

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Dan and Tom dive into The Silent Enemy, a 1958 World War II spy movie, that has lots of connections with the 1961 novel and 1965 film, Thunderball!

The Silent Enemy, while not a documentary, looks the deadly human torpedoes that the Italians created in World War II. We see how the British learn to deal with these deadly weapons. They need to figure it out in order to protect Malta. Explore this great film and all the connections to real-world events and Bond movies!

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In this podcast, we examine:

  • The historical background of this movie, set in World War II
  • The real-life Lieutenant Lionel Crabb upon who this movie is centered
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  • The role of the Human Torpedo
  • Ties to the real-life World War II decoy called Operation Mincemeat
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Q Planes (1939) – Historical Influences

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Q Planes (1939) – Historical Influences

Join Dan and Tom as they pivot their analysis on the 1939 spy movie, Q PLANES. This movie was released just before the start of World War II and had some interesting historical ties. Take a listen.

Join Dan and Tom as they Crack of Code of the history that surrounded & impacted directly the making of the 1939 movie, Q Planes (Clouds Over Europe).

Our first podcast on Q Planes called, Q Planes (Clouds Over Europe) is an analysis of the movie, scene by scene.  In this new podcast, a different approach is taken, looking at historical events (the oncoming of World War Two, etc.) that directly affected the making of the film, looking at some very interesting connections!

The real world does find its way into spy movies!

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Some of the items we discuss are:

  • How the British Secret Service was involved with this movie
  • How the movie was made to try to influence the United States from its neutral stance on Germany
  • How a phrase by Lord Horatio Nelson made its way into the movie
  • How the newspaper headlines in the movie are reflective of real 1938 headlines raising alarm of the British people
  • How the characters were created to portray different classes of people
  • How a scene with an American showgirl may have been made to make some not-so-flattering impressions about Americans
  • How this movie influenced the TV show “The Avengers”
  • The many ways this movie influenced the James Bond series of movies
  • Some similarities to The 39 Steps
  • and more …

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Q Planes (1939) – aka Clouds Over Europe

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Q Planes is a spy comedy, treating a top-secret invention the British were testing just prior to World War II and what they had to do to keep the invention and information about it out of enemy hands.   In the US, it is also known as Clouds Over Europe. It is more spy than comedy, but it has a comedic element.   Starring Ralph Richardson, Lawrence Olivier, and Valerie Hobson.

Join Dan and Tom as they dig deep into the key scenes in this film and connections to other spy movies to come!

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Q Planes is one of those cult-spy movies that has a small but avid following. True spy movie fans should know this movie.

In this podcast, we’ll examine:

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  • The basic premise of the film
  • The impact Ralph Richardson’s portrayal of Colonel Hammond had on the tv show “The Avengers”
  • Ties into the world of James Bond in print and on the big screen: Including You Only Live Twice, For Your Eyes Only and The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Ties into the Mission: Impossible franchise; both on tv and movies.
  • The “Nelson Touch”
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Q Planes (1939) – Clouds Over Europe (US)


Q Planes movie posterQ Planes
is a 1939 spy movie.  Clouds Over Europe was its name in the United States.

It is about a British Agent and his mission to discover who is trying to steal top-secret experimental equipment.  The focus of this search is around the attempted theft of a new supercharger which should increase the flight speed of aircraft.

Above all, this light-hearted, spy comedy delivers a message to the world about threats. Released about 6 months before World War II, it was, in part, a propaganda movie.

Earlier movies influenced Q Planes. This movie influenced future spy movies such as James Bond and Mission: Impossible.

Our curated videos below show these influencers via video clips and descriptions. Also, check out our podcasts which discuss this movie in more detail.

WHERE TO STREAM:

  • It is available on Amazon Prime (Prime Link). (There may be a cost)
  • In addition, it is on YouTube: (YouTube Link)

Did the title Q Planes come from Q-Ships?

The movie Q Planes got it’s title post-production.   It is assumed the name was derived from the Q-Ships that were popular in World War I.

These were freighters or steamer designed to look like non-military ships that would be easy targets for German U-boats. The idea was to get the U-boat to surface, and then the Q-ship would reveal its guns and blast away. In the movie Q Planes, no one ever does this with one of the planes. Nor is the term Q Planes ever used in the film!  The title appears to have been thought of more for marketing to UK audiences than for how it relates to the plot.

The British public loved Q-ships in World War I, but they were not terribly effective according to some historians, and even less effective in World War Two. The designation “Q” came from the ships being outfitted in Queensland, Ireland, and it helped promote the idea of “Q” being a designation for taking something ordinary and outfitting it to be a deadly weapon.

This clip lets you see a real Q-Ship.  It’s old footage showing the troops and a Q-ship in action.

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Eastern Importations and Amnesia

Here we meet the quirky Major Hammond as he is arrested.  We don’t get his name in this scene, but we learn it soon afterward.  Additionally, we believe two items in this scene (Eastern Importations Company and Major Hammond’s amnesia) have influenced future spy books and movies. We examine these two items below:

  • Eastern Importations Company – This is the sign on the door of the place where the police first meet Major Hammond.  This isn’t Hammond’s company and we don’t learn specifically why he was there.  However, we do learn this was a place that he was investigating, but don’t get the specifics.  We don’t see why this place had any significance to him other than this is where he got hit in the head.
    • Similarly, Ian Fleming used Universal Export for the first time in his 2nd book, “Live and Let Die” as a cover company for the 00’s.  However,  we must note that “Export” was singular, not plural.  In the books and especially in the movies, “Exports” changes from singular to plural.  The movie Dr. No uses the plural form of “Exports”.  However,  On Her  Majesty’s Secret Service uses the singular “Export”.
    • So, did Ian Fleming get his idea of using “Universal Exports” from Q Planes “Eastern Importations”?
  • Amnesia – Major Charles Hammond is acting quirky here. He stays a bit quirky throughout the movie but does seem confused or out of it in this scene.
    • Did a blow to the head give Major Hammond amnesia?
    • Is this a precursor to Jason Bourne and his amnesia?

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Q Planes and The Nelson Touch

When we at Spy Movie Navigator watch spy movies, we try to find where a movie may influence or was influenced by a real-world event or another spy movie. Happily, two things from this 11-second clip give us one of each type of influence. Specifically, Q Planes delivers with a phrase right at the end of this clip (“The Nelson Touch”) that has real-world historical significance.  Additionally, we get one phrase that may have influenced the Mission: Impossible series of movies and TV.

  • “You’re acting against instructions” – Major Hammond’s boss tells him “Unofficially, of course, you understand. I’ll give you every facility, but if he finds you out, you’re acting against instructions.”
    • This instantly brings a 20th and 21st Century spy movie fan to the Mission: Impossible TV and movie series.  “As always, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”
    • Does this line get it’s birth from the movie Q Planes?  Remember, this movie came out in 1939.  The “Mission: Impossible” TV show didn’t happen for another 27 years.
  • Q Planes and “The Nelson Touch” –  Major Hammond says “The Nelson Touch” in response to the above directive.  This phrase brings a real-world reference into the movie.  It refers to Lord Horatio Nelson and what he initially described as one of his battle strategies.  It’s great to see a historical reference in this type of movie.  Q Planes use of the phrase The Nelson Touch brings us to two different eras of history and two different wars.  We discuss this in more detail in our Q Planes podcast.

So, check out this clip and see if you agree with us.

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Got a cigarette? What Hammond asks in Q Planes

In this short scene, we see a trope that has been used in many spy movies.  In fact, we see it in spy movies from Hitchcock thrillers through Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible and naturally, many James Bond movies.  Of course, we’re talking about the “Got a cigarette” Spy to Spy password conversation to validate to the other person you are who they think you are. In this case, Hammond asks man: “Got a cigarette?” The man gives him the cigarette.  However,  in reality, it’s a Comm or a note wrapped around the cigarette.

The note says “The supercharger is the enemy’s objective. They may know of proposed flight from secret agent here.”

This is a very important scene for the movie.  The note tells Hammond that he was right about the supercharger. Therefore, Hammond knows he has to remove it before the next test flight.  Thank goodness that note was written on that cigarette.  What would he have done if it wasn’t?

We think Leslie Bradley was the actor playing the man Hammond got the note from.  He was also the assistant in the scene in Hammond’s office.  His role was uncredited and it was such a brief shot of his face. Therefore, although we’re not certain it was him, we believe it was.  The uniform he had on said “Barrett & Ward” which is the airplane company who’s airplanes went missing.   So, even though he was passing notes, he looked like he worked for the airplane company. Just as any good spy would.

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Did this inspire the James Bond gun barrel scene?

We all know the iconic gun barrel scene in the James Bond series of movies. First, you see the gun barrel.  Then, James Bond turns and shoots toward the camera, and the red blood drips down. This was actually filmed through a gun barrel. However, it does have a similar look to this lens aperture in Q Planes. Therefore, we have to ask: Was this scene in Q Planes the genesis of the gun barrel scene we see in almost every James Bond movie?

This quick scene is interesting. A villain aims some sort of ray toward a plane. Somehow, the ray appears to cause an electrical problem on the plane bad enough to take the plane down. Look closely, as they fire, the apparatus they use makes it look like a camera lens aperture opening. Yet, it looks somewhat familiar to James Bond fans.

We hear it wasn’t the inspiration but it is close enough of an image to make us wonder.
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The plane is nabbed to get the supercharger

This scene is a key plot point in Q Planes.  First, this plane is incapacitated in flight. It is targets by a ray beam and loses power.   After that, it makes a perfect water landing. Finally,  the plane is nabbed to get the supercharger. Watch closely and you’ll see the plane being hoisted into the ship, the SS Viking. The crew is captured as it gets out of the plane.  Remember, at this point in the movie, the villains believe the supercharger was on board.  Fortunately, due to the message in the cigarette, Major Hammond has the supercharger removed from the plane before its departure.

Similarly,  this plot is repeated in differing forms in some James Bond movies. For instance, in You Only Live Twice, a space capsule is captured in space. In The Spy Who Loved Me, it’s a submarine that gets captured. In both of these cases, the goal is to get what’s inside whatever was captured.  Also, in Thunderball and Never Say Never Again, a plane or missile is diverted, capturing them for the nuclear payload they carry.   Whereas the plane was nabbed to get the supercharger in Q Planes, these James Bond movies, alter the purpose of nabbing the item.  As you might expect, we discuss these similar plot points in our podcast called “Q Planes (1939) -aka Clouds Over Europe“.

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Jenkins is almost run down

The villains almost run Jenkins down

In this scene from Q Planes, the jig appears to be up for Jenkins.  Here, Jenkins is almost run down by a car as the villains try to kill him.  However, Major Hammond just happens to be at the scene and saves him.  Hammond’s ubiquitous umbrella is used to save the day for Jenkins.  What a creative use of the umbrella here.

However, Jenkins’ has only been given a short respite from death as we see later in the movie.

As we know, Jenkins is “working” for Barrett and Ward.  However, in reality, he is working for the Northern Salvage Company.  This German company appears to be a front for the German government.  Predictably, things don’t go well for him at Northern Salvage and his days are numbered.

A Parallel in Atomic Blonde 

There are numerous examples of people being run down by vehicles in spy movies.   One excellent example comes from the 2017 movie, Atomic Blonde.   In the opening scene of this movie, a man is trying to escape his pursuers.  He’s running and climbing over fences. Unfortunately for him, there was no Major Hammond there to pull him away before the front of the car did its death-invoking deed.  However, the first impact doesn’t kill him.  Therefore, we get to see him run over a second time.

One difference in Q Planes is that Jenkins isn’t running.  Instead, he is darting around, looking paranoid before the car tries to run him down.
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Hammond is confused by women

This fun scene lets us see how Major Hammond is confused by women.  It reminds us of this conversation from the 1964 movie “My Fair Lady”.   Henry Higgins complains about women to Colonel Pickering.  Whereas Major Hammond says nice things about women to McVane but at the same time complains about them,   Henry Higgins only complains about them before breaking in the the song “Why Can’t a Women be More Like a Man”.   However, something seems to be familiar between these two scenes.

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A Bondian Breakout and Fight

Breakout

Tony McVane’s and his crew are captured.  Therefore, he has a chance to talk with the crew captured earlier.   McVane then leads a Bondian-like breakout by smashing the door with a large pole (where was that pole before?).

This is an interesting part of the film. There is a huge James Bond-type shoot-out.   A lot of guys get shot down with machine guns, pistols, and more.  But we never feel McVane is going to get killed. 

Just as often happens in Bond movies, his team got the better of a large crew with just a few guys.  But it wasn’t over yet. And of course, the bad guys had black uniforms and the good guys white. After all, this is a Black and White film.

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North By Northwest – Part 2

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North By Northwest – Part 2

Join Dan and Tom as they are Cracking the Code of Spy Movies. Today they navigate through part 2 of the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic, NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

Join Dan and Tom as they dive deeply into Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 “monumental” spy thriller, North by Northwest.  Some have called this the first Bond movie!  From New York City to Chicago to Mount Rushmore, the thrill is on!

We look at scenes, comparisons to other spy movies, actors and insights into the key scenes and backstories!    Fun stuff for one of the best spy films ever created, with one iconic scene that everyone knows, the Crop Duster scene!

This is part 2 of a 2 Part North by Northwest podcast.

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This 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic is one of the great spy movies.
In part 2 of this podcast, we’ll examine:
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  •  How the Crop Duster Scene influenced a scene in the movie From Russia With Love
  •  How did they get to that address in Chicago
  •  The Auction Scene
  •  The double pursuit
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North By Northwest – Part 1

Podcast Episode

North By Northwest – Part 1

Join Dan and Tom as they are Cracking the Code of Spy Movies. Today they navigate through part 1 of the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic, NORTH BY NORTHWEST.

Join Dan and Tom as they dive deeply into Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 “monumental” spy thriller, North by Northwest.  Some have called this the first Bond movie!  From New York City to Chicago to Mount Rushmore, the thrill is on!

We look at scenes, comparisons to other spy movies, actors and insights into the key scenes and backstories!    Fun stuff for one of the best spy films ever created, with one iconic scene that everyone knows, the Crop Duster scene!

This is part 1 of a 2 Part North by Northwest podcast.

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This 1959 Alfred Hitchcock classic, North by Northwest,  is one of the great spy movies of all time.

In part 1 of this podcast, we’ll examine:

  • The overall plot of North by Northwest
  • Is this really the first James Bond movie (albeit without James Bond)?
  • Roger’s unfortunate case of mistaken identity
  • How two early scenes may have influenced On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
    • Let’s all sit in the back seat and I’ll joke around
    • Is that how you hold a cigarette?
  • Where the line “Pay the 2 dollars” originated
  • How Hitchcock got the shot of the United Nations building
  • The sexual conversations Eve and Roger have on the train
    • Including one word that had to be overdubbed
  •  A reference to David O. Selznick

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Q Planes (1939) – aka Clouds Over Europe

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A Case of Mistaken Identity

Roger Thornhill gets mistaken for someone named George Kaplan.  This simple mistake will cause Roger many problems.   Notice how he is put in the back seat of the car between two henchmen.   We’ve seen in another movie – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  Listen to our podcast on North by Northwest where we go into more detail about this car ride.

Mr. Townsend’s Death

In this scene, Roger learns that Mr. Townsend is not the man he thinks he is. Roger (Cary Grant) finally meets the real Mr. Townsend and realizes he’s been duped. In this clip, we see the meeting at the United Nations building and what happens to Mr. Townsend.  Pay attention to the camera angles – fantastic – especially the last one!

Now this is a train scene

Most Erotic Conversation!  Of all the train scenes we’ve seen in spy movies, this clip shows one of the most erotic conversations ever.  It puts any conversation between James Bond and a Bond Girl to shame.  And this is in 1959!

The quips between Eve and Roger are amazing.  They even had to dub out a line that was too risqué. Watch Eve’s lips in the clip and see what you think!  Listen to our podcast to hear our take on this scene!

North By Northwest (1959)

Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 thriller, North by Northwest is a movie about an advertising executive who gets caught up in the world of spies. A case of mistaken identity early in the movie sets Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) and the audience up for a thrilling journey across America.

In this curation (and in the podcast), we examine things beyond just the scope of the movie, and its interrelationship with other movies and events:

  • A crafty, yet charming villain, much like Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill
  • Suspense on a train
  • How the henchmen put Thornhill in the car which foretells a scene in James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
  • An unknown criminal organization – Can you say Spectre or Quantum?
  • Stars from the television shows “Get Smart” and Man From U.N.C.L.E. are the good guys in this movie year’s before their tv spy-dom
  • A joke that is told is based on an old vaudeville routine and first showed up on film in the 1945 movie Ziegfeld Follies
  • Airplanes trying to run the hero down, a la James Bond in From Russia With Love
  • And many others

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It’s a crop duster – look out!

One of the Most Famous Scenes in ANY Movie: Check out this scene that foretells something similar in From Russia With Love.  It’s a crop duster, Roger – DUCK or you’ll lose your head.  Fabulous photography and directing here.  You can feel the tension and fear.  As Hitchcock once said, “I just want to scare the hell out of people.”  This is one of his most famous scenes, ever, to do just that.

Getting Out Of A Bad Situation

We’ve seen auction scenes in spy movies since North by Northwest (think Octopussy), but we can’t think of one before this movie.  In this scene, Roger must use his wits and create a diversion to get out of a bad situation at an auction.

The way he does this is both funny and brilliant.  We want-to-be spies must remember this scene when we’re up against it.

The Precursor To Bond’s Appeal To Women?

This scene is short but impactfully funny.  Roger is trying to escape and ends up cutting through this woman’s room.  At first, she’s aghast.  Then she sees Roger and changes her tune. She only utters the same word twice.  Both times have very different meanings.   Roger’s reaction is wonderful.

This movie came out four years before the James Bond movie Dr. No, but Roger’s sex appeal to women here sure carries over to the Bond series.

When the girl shoots the hero

Will Eve Shoot Roger?  This scene in North By Northwest was shot on location at the Mount Rushmore restaurant.   Another fabulous scene, where Hitchcock builds up suspense for a big finish to this scene.   Little things, like Leonard (Landau) straightening his tie as he walks over to Eve and Philip Vandamm  Also,  pay close attention to the boy behind Eve – so natural and perfect.

Mount Rushmore

A great spy movie needs great scenery.  Check out this clip of Roger & Eve as they try to escape Leonard (Martin Landau) on Mount Rushmore.  Again, great tension, great anticipation, great photography – the hallmarks of a Hitchcock film, and this spy film!  We will see lots of Bond films with great fight scenes taking place in perilous places – some of that began here.

All’s well that ends well

The movie ends with Roger and Eve on Mount Rushmore.  He’s just proposed but Leonard is still pursuing them.   More tension, and then a great Hitchcock cut takes us to the final scene.   Train through the tunnel . . . concludes the film that Hitchcock mastered as a very sensuous movie in 1959!  We will see many spy movies to come, where the spy and the woman unite at the end!

Secret Agent (1936) – A second spy movie by Alfred Hitchcock

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Secret Agent (1936) – A second spy movie by Alfred Hitchcock

Join Dan and Tom as they are cracking the code of spy movies! Here, we're taking a close look at the 1936 Alfred Hitchcock movie, Secret Agent, its influence on future spy movies, and how sometimes being a secret agent is not that secret!

Secret Agent – 1936

Join us as we’re cracking the code of spy movies!

Here, Dan and Tom are taking a close look at the 1936 Hitchcock movie, Secret Agent, its influence on future spy movies, and how sometimes being a secret agent is not that secret!

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  • We dissect the key scenes in the epic spy film from 1936, Secret Agent.
  • We look at how this film has influenced spy movies to come, and the impact these early spy films have had on the genre.
  • We look at some scenes and how these scenes are the first time we see them but will see them again, lie the faked death of a person so he can spy incognito.
  • Early Hitchcock!

Note: You can watch the entire movie on YouTube: (here is the link)


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Cracking the Code of Spy Movies – A Look at 2019 and A Look Ahead to 2020

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Cracking the Code of Spy Movies – A Look at 2019 and A Look Ahead to 2020

Join Tom and Dan in our 2019 wrap-up podcast of our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show! Here, we include clips from all of our 2019 podcasts - take a listen, find ones that interest you and subscribe (free) to our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show and listen to the full episodes! We end the episode with a look ahead at the spy movies we are anticipating in 2020.

Join Tom and Dan in our 2019 wrap-up podcast of our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show! Here, we include clips from all of our 2019 podcasts – take a listen, find ones that interest you and subscribe (free) to our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show and listen to the full episodes!  We end the episode with a look ahead at the spy movies we are anticipating in 2020.

Happy New Year and thank you to all our listeners around the world! We are humbled that our spy movie community has downloaded our podcasts in 29 countries so far!

Related Content

We look back on all of our podcasts in 2019:

  1. We selected clips from each show, highlighting what the show is all about
  2. Commentary on the clips and the year

Thanks for listening!   We appreciate it very much!


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Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 1

Podcast Episode

Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 1

Have you ever thought about how events in the real world and other movies could affect and work their way into some of our favorite spy movies? Well, think about it a minute because that’s what we are going to explore today on Spy Movie Navigator. Join Dan and Tom as they explore the unique connections between spy movies and the real-world impact on what goes into a spy movie! This is Part 1 of a multi-part series! If you have any suggestions on what to include in a future podcast, send them to Dan@SpyMovieNavigator.com

Many movies get ideas for their scenes from either other movies or real-world events.  Think about the jet-pack in Thunderball or the dinner jacket that 007 reveals when removing the wet suit in Goldfinger.  Were these ideas made up for the movie or were they based on real events?  Spy Movie Navigator is starting an on-going series of podcasts that cover scenes like these.   We will tie the scene back to either another movie or a real-life event of which the scene may have been based.

In this episode, Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato will examine the first six James Bond movies and look at the roots of some of their scenes.  We’ll discuss those two scenes from Thunderball and Goldfinger and also look at many other scenes in these films to identify their roots.

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HOW EVENTS IN THE REAL-WORLD AFFECT WHAT GOES INTO SPY FILMS – Part 1

Have you ever thought about how events in the real world and other movies could affect and work their way into some of our favorite spy movies?  Well, think about it a minute because that’s what we are going to explore today on Spy Movie Navigator.  (MUSIC) 

Hi, this is Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato at Spy Movie Navigator.com – the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans – Spy Movie podcasts, videos, discussions and more! 

Let’s start by looking at some of the Bond films –  the biggest success franchise in all of spy films and a few others. 

The first real fact is, of course, Ian Fleming got the name James Bond from one of his favorite books, Birds of the West Indies, by…. James Bond. 

Dr. No was written in 1957 by Ian Fleming, published in 1958, and was his 6th James Bond novel.   The movie Dr. No, EON Production’s first Bond movie, came out in 1962.   So, here is the first instance the real world affecting this spy movie: 

  1. By 1962, both the Soviet Union and the USA were launching astronauts into space, so far ahead of the theme in the novel where the USA was launching test missiles.   In the novel, Dr. No says he is working with the Russians to disrupt American test missiles, in the movie, he is disrupting American space flights.  Also, in the movie both the East and the West have rejected his services, and so he is a member of SPECTRE Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion), and not working with the Russians.  The cold war between Russia (the Soviet Union) and the US in real life was heating up by the time the movie came out, so here, the movie was influenced by real world happenings.   
  1. And, in a subtle nod to life happening,  the painting of the Duke of Wellington by Francisco de Goya was stolen August 21st, 1961 from the National Gallery in London.   It was still missing when EON Productions was filming Dr. No.  So,  In Dr. No, when Bond is in Dr. No’s lair, he walks through the lair about to step up a couple of steps, stops and looks at a painting on an easel – it is the Duke of Wellington!  So, if you are watching Dr. No and don’t realize the painting he stops to look at is this real-life stolen Duke of Wellington, you just think, ah Bond finds that painting interesting.   Once you know the reallife incident, then this adds a brilliant glow to this scene, where the writers for EON Productions were indeed very clever and inventive.   By the way, the painting was eventually recovered in real-life and now hangs in Gallery A at the National Gallery in London once again – we saw it there while visiting Gallery # 24 where in SPECTRE, Bond meets the new Q. 

From Russia With Love – 1963 – released in 1963 by EON Productions as their second James Bond film, and Ian Fleming’s 5th James Bond novel published in 1957 (the year the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite), was heavily influenced by the times – and the Cold War.   The tensions between the US and the Soviets was at an all-time high.  Remember, the Cuban Missile Crisis (the showdown between Russia and the US) was in October 1962, the year EON was filming From Russia With Love.  So, once again, EON Productions was brilliant in their release of From Russia With Love! 

  • In addition, check out the book,  “For Your Eyes Only – Ian Fleming + James Bond” by Ben Macintyre.  Here he tells of the attempt to murder Bond on the Orient Express by SMERSH was based on a US Naval attaché in Romania, Eugene Karp, who was more than likely trying to escape from Russian agents.  He boarded the Orient Express in Bucharest in February 1950, and his body was found in a railway tunnel near Salzburg.  It was never proven the Soviet assassins did it, but it is highly probable.      
  • Even SMERSH is from the Russian Smyert Shpionam = “death to spies” – and we will see this is The Living Daylights 

 

 

Goldfinger – 1964 released in 1964 by EON Productions as their third James Bond film, based on Ian Fleming’s 7th novel of the same name, published in 1959.  In the pre-title sequence in the movie (not written in the novel) is James Bond in a wet/dry suit emerging from the water, setting explosives, and then removing his wetsuit (really a dry suit) to reveal a perfectly neat and crisp white dinner jacket, bow tie etc.    Ah, you are thinking like we were thinking – what is the chance of that really happening or being able to happen?!   

Well, let’s talk to MI6 about a similar WW-II operation!  In an article by David Harrison in April 2010 for The Telegraph, he reveals that a Jeremy Duns,  a British writer, was researching a new book.  He found out that a Dutch spy used a very similar technique to infiltrate a German-occupied mansion in the Netherlands during WW-II  From the water, he emerged in a wetsuit.  Underneath this specially designed wetsuit, he wore the evening wear.  His evening wear would make him look like he belonged, and he could slip past the guards into the party.   He was supposed to extract two comrades and escape.   Well, Jeremy Duns thinks that a Brit screenwriter, Paul Dehn, who was called in to polish up the Goldfinger script, knew about this WW-II incident, because he was a former intelligence officer in WW-II.  Hmm!   The original script did not have this scene, and, as said, it was not in the novel.     He feels it is too much of a coincidence that this scene was written into the screenplay by Paul Dehn, who most certainly was aware of this WW-II operation!  True real-life incident put into the movie! 

Skipping ahead, at the point in the film where Bond is captured by Goldfinger’s henchmeafter another great car chase scene, Bond finds himself strapped to a metal table, as Goldfinger is about to demonstrate his new toy – a laser beam.  Here in the film, the laser beam is directed at the base of the table and is guided to rise-up between Bond’s legs, into his crotch and eventually kill him.   In the book by Fleming, published March 23 1959, there were no lasers yet – and so this device was a table saw.   The laser was not invented until 1960.   The first working laser was built on May 16, 1960 by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories based on the theoretical work of Charles Hard Townes and Arthur Leonard Schawlow.   The term laser came to be an  acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.”   Again, EON Productions was brilliant at integrating a real-life happening, the invention of the laser, into this film which was being shot in 1963 for release in 1964.  And at the time, this was a very high-tech scene in Goldfinger!  We cannot think of another film of any kind using a laser before Goldfinger, so here is another first for EON Productions!   

This scene is famous the world-over for the laser, and for the dialogue: Bond: “ You expect me to talk?”  Goldfinger” “No, Mr. Bond I expect you to die!”   

   

 

Thunderball – 1965 Thunderball was Ian Fleming’s 9th James Bond novel, published in 1961, and EON Production’s 4th James Bond 007 movie, which opened in 1965.   Thunderball probably would have been the first movie produced but there were some copyright issues that were delayed in settlement.  Kevin McClory and Fleming had worked on a script that never made it to production.   Fleming used part of it for Thunderball, and eventually a settlement was reached.  Thunderball is the only early EON production  movie where the producers are not listed as “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.  Here they are listed as Executive Producers (which is a lesser status) and McClory is listed as the producer.   Also, McClory got the right to produce his own James Bond film based on his Thunderball contributions and eventually did Never Say Never Again which is basically the same story.   

But we digress!   In Thunderball, SPECTRE is at it again.  So, we get away from the US versus the Soviet Union and have this other entity as the enemy again.   Remember in Dr. No we were introduced to SPECTRE.   

Of course, by 1961 when the novel was published, we had lots of atomic bombs in the world, and there was an arms race between the Soviet Union and the US.  So, atomic weapons were on everyone’s minds.    

  1. The basis of this story is based in real life – people were worried about a nuclear war and atomic weapons.   Here, two atomic weapons are hijacked by SPECTRE who threaten to destroy a major city either in the US or in the United Kingdom.  So even though EON Productions did not make this their first Bond film, in 1965 the world was very aware of the threat from major powers building up supplies of nuclear weapons.    So, the topic was hot. 
  1. The sky hook, which recovers Bond and Domino at the end, is an actual real-life device developed by Robert Fulton for the CIA in the 1950s.  By letting up a line from the ground with a self-inflating balloon, a specially equipped plane can fly by and scoop up the line and the one or two personnel it was designed to retrieve.  Cool!  A real-life gadget at the time.   
  1. In 1956, a Soviet cruiser came to Britain, with Nikita Khrushchev on a state visit to Britain.   He was the former Premiere of the Soviet Union.  It was also in 1956 where, Khrushchev said: We will bury you” while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow on November 18, 1956.  So Soviet/Western relations were not good.   So on this visit to Britain, Britain wanted to get a look at this new Soviet ship – some reports say to examine for mine-laying hatches, or sonar equipment, and other reports, like from Peter Wright’s book, “Spycatcher,”  Britain’s Naval Intelligence  wanted information on the potential new propeller system this ship had.  So MI6 sent a scuba diver down (actually, two were reported as being sent) and one was a great diver, Lionel Crabb.  Crabb never returned from this mission, and a headless, handless body was found 14 months later dressed in the scuba gear he had worn on that date (April 15 1956).  MI6 covered up the mission, saying Crabb was lost in some underwater exercise.   Many theories floated about, one being that Soviet sentries were stationed underwater to guard the ship, caught Crabb, cut his air hose and brought him aboard and he later died.  Other theories say he was shot underwater by a Soviet sniper.   

Now, you will remember in Thunderball, Bond is sent to inspect the hull of the Disco Volante, Largo the villain’s boat.  Bond is discovered too by Largos frogmen, as Bond was taking photos of the hull to determine if there was an underwater hatch.   Bond, more luck than Crabb, escapes.  The photos showed an underwater hatch which leeds Bond to think Largo’s entire operation (the theft of the plane carrying to nuclear missiles) might be underwater – including the plane that was hijacked.  Is there a connection between the Crabb event and these scenes in Thunderball?  The MI6 officer in charge of the Lionel Crabb underwater deployment and mission was Nicholas Elliott – a friend of Fleming’s! 

  1. In the 1958 movie, Silent Enemy(based on a true story) – 2 British battleships are sunk in Alexandria by explosives set under their hulls.  The explosives, in real life, were being set by Italian scuba-divers, who were launched from a submarine using what they called, “underwater chariots” – which in Thunderball and other spy movies to come – were the underwater sleds used to transport the bombs, get divers to certain locations underwater, etc.!  In real life, they were using these underwater chariots to bring frogmen to the British ships where they would attach torpedoes and mines.  The British had to figure this out and stop it – and here, Lionel Crabb (who we mentioned earlier) was in charge of the operation to infiltrate the enemy shipdestroy their capabilities of continuing to blow up British ships!   So, in this movie we see real-life events.  Of course, we see in The Spy Who Loved Me, Stromberg’s (the villain) ship, the “Liparus,” has underwater bow hatches that capture the Soviet and US submarines (with nuclear weapons aboard).   

In the same movie, Silent EnemyALSO, there is a great underwater battle of frogmen, cutting breathing hoses and more – just like in Thunderball and additional spy movies to come.   The Thunderball underwater scenes, filmed in the Bahamas, were set the standard for future underwater battles, and the potential connections to real-life events from World War 2 makes Thunderball underwater hull investigations, and underwater battles with frogmen and underwater sleds even more grounded in reality.   

Also in Thunderball, the jet pack, was real and flown by Bill Suiter, who demanded using a helmet which is why Sean Connery as Bond puts on a helmet when he takes off.   

  1. Though the movie came out in 1965, Fleming’s 9th novel was published in 1961.  And it foreshadowed the threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis to the US Florida cities (like Miami, Cape Canaveral etc).  

 

You Only Live Twice – 1967 Ian Fleming’s 12th novel published in 1964 (counting the For Your Eyes Only collection of short stories, and it’s the last novel published before his death), and EON Production’s 5th James Bond 007 film which opened in 1967.  The movie has little to do with the actual novel.   Here, the beginning of the movie depicts the death of James Bond, complete with obituary in the newspapers.   There is a burial at sea for Commander Bond, and when the body sinks to the bottom of the ocean, scuba divers retrieve the body and bring it to the awaiting submarine where it is taken aboard, the wrappings open, only to reveal a live James Bond who quips, “Request permission to come aboard, Sir.” 

Thank God Bond is alive – we were worried, right?   His death was faked to throw off the enemy .  Of course, that means they knew who James Bond was, which is often the case, but that’s another podcast! 

  1. The faked death of spies is definitely grounded in reality.  Google Arkady Babchenko, faked his own death because being very critical of Vladimir Putin, he was certain that he would be killed by the KGB.  In a huge real-life situation in World War-II, Operation Mincemeat (Google it!) the Allies floated the body of a dead man with fake papers identifying him as a Captain who the Germans had been tracking. With papers indicating an invasion of Sardinia Italy and Greece instead of Sicily, to mislead the Germans.  Some stories say the fictitious name of the dead man was Captain William Martin, while other reports say the Germans were aware of the supposed dead man and felt he really knew something.  Regardless, the deception worked.  And the source of the plan came from Rear Admiral John Godfrey and his assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming.    Yep!
  2. We all remember Henderson, the contact Bond meets in Japan and who has key information, was based on Richard Hughes, a reporter and double agent who worked for Ian Fleming at one point during WW-II.  Hughes did a lot of Bond-like things.  Hughes spent a great deal of time in Japan.   Hence, a great place to film this movie.  Google The extraordinary untold Japan story of ‘You Only Live Twice’ by Damian Flanigan, special to the Japan Times.   Great story!
  3. “Little Nellie,” the one-man autogyro that Bond flies to do surveillance in Japan was a real-life invention, developed by Ken Wallis, a Royal Air Force guy, in the early part of the 1960s.  The one used in the movie was modified, of course.  
  4. Of course, the Space Race played a part here too – the US and Soviet Union at the time were racing each other for outer space advantages and achievements.   So, SPECTRE capturing Soviet and US space capsules is a natural, given the times in 1967, two years before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin will land on the moon on the US Apollo 11. 

 

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – 1969 Ian Fleming’s 11th novel, published in 1963; and EON Production’s 6th James Bond 007 movie, showing in 1969.  The first Bond movies without Sean Connery, George Lazenby steps in to be Bond and to be bonded – married – to Teresa Di Vincenzo (Tracy) – played by Diana Rigg. 

In his mountain-top laboratory, posing as an allergy clinic, at Piz Gloria (Schilthorn, Switzerland  Blofeld is brainwashing young women to deliver a chemical agent that will stop plants and animals from reproducing- creating a tremendous food crisis.  The setting is spectacular – we have been to Piz Gloria about 10,000 feet up! 

  1. In 1968, there was an experiment done by the US Army at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah.  Through a malfunction of a spraying nozzle, a toxic chemical was released and almost 30 miles away, over 6,000 sheep were found dead.   There was no definitive connection to the agent released and the sheep deaths, but traces of the toxic chemical were supposedly found on the carcasses.   So, draw your own conclusion!   So, when OHMSS comes out in 1969, chemical warfare and potential devastation to life through chemicals was very much real.
  2. The Soviet Union was ramping up chemical warfare research, while the US began to downgrade ours.  Again, what Blofeld was thinking was not out of the realm of possibility! 

 


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<em>The 39 Steps</em>

Podcast Episode

The 39 Steps

The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock is considered by many to the first spy movie ever made! If you came to our site as a Bond, Bourne, Hunt, Smiley, or other spy movie fan, you might not have seen this film. Join Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato as they examine how The 39 Steps, considered by many to be the first spy movie, has influenced other spy movies that came after it. We'll also look at what happenings in the real world that influenced this spy movie.

The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock is considered by many to the first spy movie ever made!  If you came to our site as a Bond, Bourne, Hunt, Smiley, or other spy movie fan, you might not have seen this film.

Released in 1935, this movie sets the table for future spy movies to come. From helicopter chases and train chases to pursuit through unknown lands, this film is a must for all spy movie fans!

Join Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato as they examine how The 39 Steps, considered by many to be the first spy movie, has influenced other spy movies that came after it.  We’ll also look at what happenings in the real world that influenced this spy movie.

 

Related Content

The 39 Steps

Hannay – Robert Donat
Pamala – Madeleine Carrol
Miss Smith – Lucie Mannheim
Professor Jordan – Godfrey Tearle
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Summary on Wikipedia

The 39 Steps, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, released in 1935, is considered by many to be the first spy film. So, if you are a spy movie fan, then we must take a close look at The 39 Steps to see exactly what this film is about, how it may have influenced other spy films to come, and what happenings in the real world influenced this spy film. As in many Hitchcock movies, like North By Northwest, Notorious, The Man Who Knew Too Much – an innocent bystander is thrust into the world of espionage.

A woman agent who has no affiliation with any country is trying to stop England’s secrets of air defense from falling into the hands of some certain brilliant agent of a foreign power who wants these secrets. Not because she loves England, but because they will pay her better. This is what she tells Hannay – that at the theater where they had just come from, there were two men who wanted to kill her. She and Hannay went back to Hannay’s flat. And he looks to the street from his flat window, he sees two men – waiting. She tells Hannay that he is in just as much trouble as her now – and if he ever heard of The 39 Steps. Their chief has a dozen names and can look like a 100 people, but the one thing he cannot disguise is he has the top part of his right-hand little finger missing. She wants a map of Scotland because that is where the man she must visit next is.
This film stars Robert Donat and Madeleine Carrol.

If you are a spy movie fan, you can watch the entire 1935 film on YouTube.

More Details

The film opens in a theater, in London, where a man on stage is about to answer virtually any questions the audience may ask. He is, in a sense, Mr. Know-It-All, called in the film Mr. Memory, who every day commits to memory 50 facts in a variety of categories (science, history, geography, etc.). There is a haunting musical theme that is associated with Mr. Memory that sticks in Hannay’s head.

A man walks in in a trench coat and sits down. Later a woman is shown at the bar. The man in the trench coat, who turns out to be Hannay, asks how far Winnipeg is from Montreal – and Mr. Memory indicates that the gentleman is a Canadian. So, we see he is not a Brit. After a bunch of questions, an official-looking gentleman comes in (police) and there is a scuffle with a guy at the bar. During the commotion, Hannay finds himself face-to-face with a woman. After a while, she asks if she could go home with him. He says, “well, it’s your funeral.” Spoiler: He turns out to be correct.

They leave the music hall and go to his place, 122 (looks like) Portland Place: Portland Mansion. He has a furnished flat as he is from Canada here for only a few months. He asks her name: “Smith.” She looks Eastern European, has an accent – Smith? Ok, now we are a little suspicious of her and who she is.

The Death of the Spy

Hannay sees Smith come into his room in this flat, with a piece of paper, stumbling, and saying, “You’re next!” She falls, revealing a knife sunk halfway into her back. She collapses and dies. Hannay does not know what to do next. The local police think he has killed her – it was in his flat. And he flees, remembering what she said about Scotland.
Not so easy to get out of his flat. The men are still there waiting for him now.

Hannay’s Getaway from his Flat – the Milkman Scene

Because Hannay is now being watched – and he does not know who wants to get him – the police for the murder he did not commit, or the people who killed the spy – he must devise a clever way to get out of his flat. The milkman scene is a classic, and we see other bait and switch scenes in future spy moves too, like in James Bond’s The Living Daylights where the enemy spy kills the milkman, then disguises himself as the milkman so he can get into the safe house where a Russian agent is kept who are defecting to the West. Here, Hannay needs the milkman’s uniform as a disguise to try to escape the two guys waiting to kill him.

The Trains Scene, Flying Scotsman

He heads for the train, the Flying Scotsman. In this clip, we see the death scene, but cuts to the train scene – Hannay is aboard and two are in pursuit of him.
This is the first of many train scenes (chases, fights, key meetings) we will see in spy movies to come! (Just a few to think about: Secret Agent, From Russia With Love, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, Mission: Impossible 1, Casino Royale, Skyfall, and others). Here, for the first time, is the original chase scene on the train – with tense moments, intense drama, and a man, Hannay, trying to escape from the officials who are after him, who think he killed the woman spy in his flat.

Just pay attention to the clanging of the wheels, the lighting on the train, the bridge, the pursuit – all part of the blueprint for future spy movies. Two gentlemen read a newspaper across from him on the train about the murder and how Hannay is wanted by the police. The police are aboard the train after a stop and are looking for him. He enters a compartment and kisses a strange woman, who turns him in – but later becomes an ally after a while. The bridge in the movie is the Forth Bridge in Scotland, which opened in 1890, and it is still around and can be visited. The foot chase on the train creates tension and distress. Hannay, while innocent, is trying to escape. The chase is a foreshadowing of future chase scenes and fight scenes on trains as we will see in Spy Train, From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, Mission Impossible 1 and others. His escape to the bridge, Forth Bridge, is electrifying and for the viewer, a relief. The train is stopped on the bridge as the police look for him. This somewhat foreshadows View to a Kill bridge scene in San Francisco for Roger Moore’s Bond. Here, the police re-board the train thinking Hannay got back on, but Hannay did not.

Wandering now around Scotland, he stops and talks to a man, and asks if there are any newcomers around – he says yes an Englishman, a professor, and yes, he is near the town that the spy was to go to. Hannay must stay the night at this farm, meets the man’s wife, who misses Glasgow where she is from. He flatters her. She seems to like him. This scene is important because, as Hannay reads the newspaper he sees that the murder has been traced to Scotland. He knows they are on him. The wife knows that he is the man they are after. In fact, she awakes in the middle of the night, her husband notices, and she tells Hannay the police are coming and he better hurry. The husband thinks they are making love, but he tells the husband the police are after him and pays the man 5 pounds. But when the police come to the door, the wife knows her husband will turn Hannay in. Margaret (she reveals her name) gives him her husband’s “Sunday” coat.

With police still in pursuit, he runs. A small helicopter is looking for him too – ah, remember we will see more helicopter pursuits in spy films, like in From Russia With Love! He runs and is running along a river – the Forth Bridge transverses the estuary (Firth) of the River Forth – so this is probably the River Forth, not far from Alt-Na-Shellach (now we think it is called Achnashellach) – a large estate that he was looking for.

Hannay finds the estate, rings the bell, asks for the Master, and says to ask him if he knows Miss Annabella Smith (the spy). He enters, the police show up, and the maid answering the door denies any strangers are there. Hannay introduces himself as Mr. Hammond and he is from Miss Smith. The people know about the murderer being in Scotland, so know he is Hannay and asks if Annabella was killed and why he is here in Scotland. He says she was coming to see you. That the foreign agent who killed her is headed up by a man who had part of his little finger missing. He reveals that part of his (Professor Jordan ) little finger is missing and that he is about to convey some very vital information out of the country.

He shoots Hannay, and he falls. Turns out the bullet hits the hymnbook that was in the farmer’s “Sunday” coat. Hannay escapes to the sheriff. He turns him into the police who have been after him. The other two men who killed Smith are outside the police station. Hannay escapes through the window. He loses himself in a parade and the woman on the train (Pamela) turns him in again and Hannay tells her to call England and Scotland Yard. She says no. She and Hannay are in a car being taken somewhere. It is a suspicious situation. Pamala and he are now wondering – and Hannay says I bet your Sherriff principal has the top joint of his little finger missing. Pamela overhears something that makes her believe Hannay is telling the truth.

Handcuffed together, Pamela and Hannay escape.

The police are still on his tracks as he stays at an inn with Pamela and they show up to ask the innkeeper about new travelers. But they are supposedly in the good graces of the wife and she sends off the police. Pamala now decides Hannay has been speaking the truth. Eventually, they make it back to England. The haunting Mr. Memory musical theme is still in Hannay’s head as he has been whistling it in various scenes. Is Pamela the first Spy Girl (ala “Bond Girl”)? If so, she is tough and self-sufficient, and a model for future spy women. Think Ursula Andres as Honey Rider in Dr. No.

For spy movie fans, this movie has continuous action – not the kind of special effects action scenes in modern spy films – but continuous action that creates tension onscreen and in the viewer’s mind.

The Theater Finale

Back in London, Pamela goes to Scotland Yard – she had phoned from Scotland (unbeknownst to us). Scotland Yard is not believing her. They want Hannay. She goes to the theater. They follow. Hannay is in the theater too. The tension is police are following her to get to Hannay. Hannay sees someone up in a box, borrows specs and sees a hand with the top knuckle of the little finger missing!

Mr. Memory is now on stage! Hannay figures it out – Mr. Memory has committed all the secret plans to memory and Hannay thinks Professor Jordan will get him out of the country after the show. Hannay is cornered by the police and he shouts out to Mr. Memory, ”What are the 39 Steps?” Mr. Memory starts to speak, “The 39 Steps is an organization of spies collecting information on behalf of the foreign office of . . .” and he is shot by Professor Jordan, who leaps from the box and eventually onto the stage (ala John Wilkes Booth) and is caught. Hannay: “Mr. Memory – what is the secret formula you were taking out of the country?” Mr. Memory: “The first feature of the engine is….renders the engine completely silent.” And he dies. The secret is safe! Hannay is innocent!


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