OUR MAN IN HAVANA
1959, Sony Repertory, 111 min, UK, Dir: Carol Reed

Directed by Carol Reed (THE THIRD MAN) and adapted from Graham Greene's novel, this amusingly droll soufflé of a film received only lukewarm reviews upon its initial release, but is more impressive with each passing year. Alec Guinness is single father Jim Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman in pre-Castro Cuba trying to bring up his teenage daughter. When asked by fellow Englishman Hawthorne (Noel Coward) to spy for his country, the strapped-for-money Jim accepts, but proves inept at recruiting contacts. On the advice of a friend (Burl Ives), he comes up with a list of made-up characters - and before he knows it, pleased UK bosses send him a secretary (Maureen O’Hara), and rival Soviet agents begin trying to eliminate him. A great, knowing satire about the unreliability of intelligence-gathering, something more prescient today than ever. With the great Ernie Kovacs as the smoothly sinister captain of police.


GREAT EXPECTATIONS
1946, MGM Repertory, 118 min, UK, Dir: David Lean

The film that set the standard for all Dickens adaptations before or since. Director David Lean’s early masterpiece opens with the awesome images of a convict stumbling across a storm-wracked moor, and then plunges us into the story of an impoverished underdog, Pip (John Mills) trying to defy the rigid caste system of Victorian England. Co-starring Alec Guinness (in his first film for Lean), Jean Simmons, Francis L. Sullivan and Valerie Hobson, with Oscar-winning, black-and-white photography by Guy Green. "Probably no finer Dickens film has been made than Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS." – Michael Pointer, Charles Dickens On Screen.


MURDER BY DEATH
1976, Sony Repertory (Columbia), 94 min, USA, Dir: Robert Moore

Eccentric millionaire Truman Capote invites six of the world’s greatest detectives to his mansion for “dinner and a murder.” When the sleuths (Peter Sellers, David Niven, Maggie Smith, James Coco, Peter Falk and Elsa Lanchester) arrive and discover that the host is the apparent victim, they attempt to solve the puzzle and survive the evening themselves. Neil Simon’s dazzling script parodies virtually all the conventions of the murder mystery while throwing in enough red herrings to keep the audience guessing until the very end. With Alec Guinness.


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