“Our Man in Havana” (1959)

A very quirky, droll English production of a Graham Greene novel/screenplay. Alec Guinness stars as Jim Wormold, a vacuum cleaner salesman who stumbles into the English secret service and becomes “Our Man in Havana”.

The movie is directed by Carol Reed, who also directed Greene’s The Third Man. Other actors include Burl Ives as a German doctor-friend, Maureen O’Hara as Jim’s secretary-love, Ernie Kovacs as a smarmy police chief, Noel Coward as the agent who hires Jim, and Ralph Richardson as the “Q” back in London. Each character is as funny and interesting as Jim’s fictional reports and dodges to avoid accountability.

This is a nicely-done, witty satire on the spy trade by Greene, the English author who specialized in spy fiction long before Le Carre, Ian Fleming, and their modern successors. Viewers have to pay close attention to the dialogue and contexts not to miss the timeless jokes and ironies.

Highly recommended for spy movie satire fans, but be aware this Sony/Columbia film on DVD is higher comedy than Austin Powers stuff. Also recommended for viewers who like literate, quirky scripts with olde school humor.

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