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THE ROOTS OF HEAVEN
1958, 20th Century Fox, 121 min, USA, Dir: John Huston

The endangered African elephant is the “root of Heaven” in this prescient look at an idealist (Trevor Howard) trying to save a species from extinction. Romain Gary’s nuanced script, adapted from his novel, has a field day with the varied characters who hope to use the crusading conservationist to advance their own agendas. Errol Flynn, Eddie Albert and Orson Welles are among the star-studded cast (who battled withering heat during the film’s location shoot).


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.


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