Movies watched for The Enemy Within

First, I’m pleased to report that I’ve updated and polished up the introduction and the first four chapters (German, Japanese and Cold War Fifth Columnists—the Commies required two chapters). It’ll need more going over, particularly as I add movies to those chapters and as the book gets longer (I may wind up having to go back and trim), but it’s looking quite decent.
Now, the movies:
THE SENTINEL (2006) has Michael Douglas as a veteran Secret Service agent suspected of being the double-agent plotting to assassinate the president, but his real secret is a love affair with First Lady Kim Basinger. Perfectly adequate, but as it turns out, not one for the book.
GUILTY BY SUSPICION (1991) is one of those films that mistakes a premise for a plot, a by-the-numbers drama of screenwriter Robert deNiro discovering his brief association with the American Communist Party has HUAC wanting him to name names, then blacklisting him when he refuses. Definitely one for my book, but the kind of film where I react to every development with “Well, of course!”
Charlize Theron is THE ASTRONAUT’S WIFE (1999) who gets the oddest feeling spouse Johnny Depp hasn’t been the same since he lost contact with Earth for a couple of minutes in space. Ploddingly slow and dull, but merits at least a mention in my book.
INVASION OF THE POD PEOPLE (2007) is a direct-to-DVD piece (from the same people who brought us TRANSMORPHERS) in which the replacement of staff and models at an LA modeling agency leads to R-rated lesbian orgies (nothing over an R, though) and violence between the usual Are You One of Us, Or— paranoid fears. Feeble.
ACROSS THE PACIFIC (1942) is best known for reuniting John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Sidney Greenstreet after The Maltese Falcon but should be at least as well known as the first Pearl Harbor film, only to switch gears when Dec. 7, 1941 took place mid-filming, forcing them to shift their Japanese sabotage plot to the Panama Canal (and some rather awkward explanations why a Central American plantation is staffed entirely by Asians). A perfect fit for my book, for example by showing a completely Americanized Japanese college student as being really a die-hard loyalist to the Emperor.
THE PARALLAX VIEW (1972) is Alan J. Pakula’s exercise in political paranoia, as Warren Beatty discovers everyone who saw a second gunman at a political assassination has died mysteriously as the result of a sinister conspiracy we never do get to make sense of. Very much a product of its time in its vague but ominous suspicions and having the Parallax Corp. win out in the end; very good, in any case.
THE ENEMY WITHIN (1994) is a reworking of Seven Days in May with Jason Robards as a would-be military dictator and Forest Whitaker as the man working to prevent it with help from George Dzunda as a Russian spymaster (“We do not want to see a militarized United States.”), President Sam Wanamaker and Chief of Staff Dana Delaney. The scope of the scheme puts this in my book where straight assassination stories such as The Sentinel lose out.
THE HOLCROFT COVENANT (1985) doesn’t qualify as well as I’d thought—while Michael Caine’s Holcroft certainly has trouble figuring out which side his various associates are on, and a great many conflicting agendas are in play, there isn’t much in the way of infiltration and political paranoia. In its own right, competent, but not outstanding , though I do like Caine playing such an inept man of action.
MINISTRY OF FEAR (1945) has Ray Milland discover that merely by buying a cake, he’s plunged himself into a world where everyone from psychics to relief agencies is up to their knees in espionage; a solid thriller from Fritz Lang based on a Graham Greene book (I really must read some Greene one day).
INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS (1973) remains one of my favorite bad films as a sexy mad scientist attempts to create a Fifth Column race of insectoid superwoman only to breed sterile sexpots whose insatiable lust causes men to drop dead of exhaustion during sex (triggering a lot of sexual paranoia). A decade later, this might have been an AIDS metaphor; as is, inept but entertaining.

1 Comment

Filed under Movies, Screen Enemies of the American Way

One response to “Movies watched for The Enemy Within

  1. Pingback: Two views of the 1970s | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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