Monday, January 18, 2010
From the Roku: Our Man In Havana (1959)
Graham Greene gives the Coen Brothers a run for their considerable money in the cynicism department. I kept getting shades of Burn After Reading in a more gentle way while I was watching this. It's interesting because in the very first shot, a shot of a pool overlooking the Havana skyline there is a note saying that this was set in pre-revolutionary Cuba. Basically, Alex Guinness is a vacuum cleaner salesman who gets caught up in local espionage within the British government, and it works not only as a cynical comedy (Guinness basically lies his way through for the money) but also a delicious little mystery in that English style. It was cool to see Burl Ives as an actual human being and not a singing snowman. And Maureen O'Hara is a treat as usual. I am not a expert on Carol Reed, but I can say here, the nighttime shots of Havana as Guinness winds his way through the streets have a certain beautiful Third Man-style about them. Interesting sidenote from IMDB :" Fidel Castro's government gave permission for this film, which presents the fallen regime of Fulgencio Batista, in an unflattering light and also condemns American and British meddling, to shoot on location in Havana, only months after the revolution. It was completed during the brief period in 1959 before Cuba had aligned itself with the Soviet Union." It looked pretty amazing, I have to say.