Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Get 12 issues from just £25
Must-Have Movie Collectibles
Bid on some classic memorabilia
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Burl Ives
Alec Guinness
Maureen O'Hara
Ernie Kovacs.
Directors
Carol Reed.
Screenwriters
Graham Greene.
Running Time
111 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Erebus: Into The Unknown
3 Star Empire Rating
Walesa: Man of Hope
4 Star Empire Rating
Warn that Man
3 Star Empire Rating
West 11
2 Star Empire Rating
We Joined The Navy
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Whiplash
5 Star Empire Rating
EMPIRE ESSAY: When Harry Met Sally
5 Star Empire Rating
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating

Our Man In Havana


submit to reddit


Plot
Cuban-based vacuum cleaner salesman James Wormold agrees to spy for British controller Hawthorne to finance his daughter Milly (Jo Morrow)'s social aspirations. However, his eccentric behaviour in compiling bogus reports arouses the suspicions of brutal police captain Segura, who has a courtly crush on Milly.


Review

When Alberto Cavalcanti approached Graham Greene about making a film just after the Second World War, the novelist devised an outline about a vacuum cleaner salesman operating as a spy in the Estonian capital of Tallinn in 1938. The Brazilian-born director allegedly abandoned the project after being refused government permission to lampoon the Secret Service. However, Greene continued to develop the story, which had been inspired by his own wartime surveillance of Abwehr agents in Portugal, who had been paid per report and not according to results and, thus, submitted rumour as fact to boost their expenses.

    Alfred Hitchcock was keen to purchase the rights to the resulting novel. But Greene had considered him an unnecessarily flamboyant director since his days as a critic, and, so he agreed to collaborate once more with Carol Reed - who had directed The Fallen Idol and The Third Man  - and the pair wrote the screenplay in a Brighton hotel room before securing permission to shoot in Castro's Cuba.

    Reed assembled a splendid cast and made atmospheric use of his Havana locations by reducing the light levels as Wormold's initially harmless deception came to have an increasingly sinister upshot.

    However, in trying to translate a book about the act of invention as a comic thriller, Greene was forced to abandon the text's authorial parallels and, consequently, there simply wasn't enough going on to sustain the movie narrative. Wormold was too passive a character to generate much intrigue (although Alec Guinness had wanted to play him as a untidy, defeated soul rather than as a hapless non-entity) and he remained relatively unmoved by the machinations that he had set in motion.

     Greene tried to blame the failing on Jo Morrow, whose tarty flirtations made Wormold's blind devotion seem pathetically foolish. But it was Reed who misjudged both the tone of the satire and the personality of the innocent abroad - something, ironically, that Hitchcock probably wouldn't have done.


Verdict
So much potential in casting, script etc...but the translation from the book didn't quite make sense on screen.


Reviewed by David Parkinson

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Stephen Daldry Talks Trash
The Billy Elliot man on his Rio carnival and training as a clown

Colin Firth And Taron Egerton Talk Kingsman: The Secret Service
Plus Samuel L. Jackson on bad-guy duties

A Brief History Of The Ring
Everything you need to know about the J-horror reboot

The X-Men TV Series: 10 Possible Plotlines
Mutants on a budget? We suggest some ideas for Fox’s new franchise extension

10 Kid-Friendly Marvel Comics That Could Be The Next Big Hero 6
Walt Disney Animation Studios have a lot to play with elsewhere in the Marvelverse

20 Sitcom Spin-Offs That Were Doomed To Fail
From Joey to Ally and back again…

Five Impressive Oscar Isaac Roles You Didn't Realise Were Oscar Isaac
Welcome to Oscar season...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)