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Our Man in Havana (1959) - New To DVD - Martini Movies !!


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*I love the "Martini Movies"... There a lot of great films that are finally seeing the light of day for the 1st time. Take _Our Man in Havana_ (1959) another film W./Alec Guinness I havne't seen before!*

 

*Well I keep going through the "Martini Movies" 1 film at a time, and I'm loving every minute of it!*

 

*TONIGHT: _Our Man in Havana_ (1959)*

 

 

*_Interesting Trivia_:*

 

 

Filmed on location in Havana three months after Castro's January 1959 Revolution, the script had to be submitted to Cuba's Minister of the Interior, where it was insisted that 39 changes be made to make it appear that life during the Battista regime was more unfavorable.

 

 

 

*DVD Verdict Review - _Our Man in Havana_ (1959)*

Jan 28, 2009

 

 

New Year's Day marked the fiftieth anniversary of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista's departure, which paved the way for the regime of Fidel Castro. Before that happened, author Graham Greene (The Third Man) visited Havana?"this extraordinary city, where every vice was permissible and every trade possible," he said in Ways of Escape, quoted at Greeneland, a tribute site. Greene wrote that he had long been contemplating a story about an agent sending fake reports to British intelligence; now he had found a setting for his latest "entertainment," a term Greene used for his lighter concoctions.

 

Our Man in Havana saw print in 1958, as Batista's era drew to a close. Director Carol Reed, who brought The Third Man to the screen memorably, quickly went to work on Our Man in Havana, with Greene penning the adaptation. However, events overtook the 1959 movie, as you'll note from the words on the screen at the beginning: "This film is set in Cuba before the recent revolution."

 

 

The latest entry in Sony's "Martini Movies" series is a well-timed release of Our Man in Havana.

 

 

 

*_Facts of the Case_*

 

 

When Hawthorne (Noel Coward, _The Italian Job_ (1969) comes into Jim Wormold's vacuum cleaner shop in Havana, it's easy to tell he wants more than just a Hoover. It's not until Hawthorne catches up to Wormold in a bar that the salesman learns that his new friend's a spy who wants him to join the game. Wormold's reluctant to become a number, No. 59200-5 specifically. "Well, the vacuum cleaners take up a lot of time," he protests. However, his business isn't doing so well, and Hawthorne is offering $150 a week plus expenses. Yeah, that was a lot in the Fifties.

 

Soon Hawthorne's trying to recruit agents, with no luck. His friend Hasselbacher (Burl Ives, Captains and the Kings) has a better idea: Just "invent" the agents and their reports. "As long as you invent, you do no harm."

 

It doesn't turn out that way, though. Wormold attracts the attention of Captain Segura (Ernie Kovacs, Bell, Book and Candle), a Batista torturer who wants to marry Milly (Jo Morrow, 13 Ghosts), Wormold's beautiful daughter. His top secret drawings of an Atomic Pile vacuum cleaner have attracted the attention of the PM. The spy agency is sending a secretary and radio operator. Worse yet, someone's threatening and even killing his "agents." Soon, Wormold will have to take bold action.

 

 

 

*_The Evidence_*

 

 

Our Man in Havana may be just an "entertainment," but scripter Graham Greene and director Carol Reed make sure you know what's up in Batista's Cuba from the start. A solitary swimmer in a rooftop pool is contrasted with the crowds on the street below, complete with lotteries and hustlers. Police roughly question whomever they please and kids hang around anyone who looks like they might have a few bucks. Some real filming in Havana during the early days of the Castro regime gives the movie that extra bit of realism.

 

For the most part, the movie's a comedy, with Greene's world-weary attitude toward espionage coming through. The dialogue is a droll delight, with exchanges like this:

 

"There's not much electric power since the troubles began."

 

"When was that?"

 

"Oh, about the time Queen Victoria died."

 

Wormold's a dangerously incompetent spy, but the rest of the agents aren't much better. The radio operator disrupts traffic outside Wormold's store enough when bringing his equipment in that the whole city must know spies are setting up shop. Even as the officials back in London remark on how much the Cuban installation looks like a vacuum cleaner, they're not suspicious.

 

Alec Guinness initially portrays Wormold as the stereotypical expatriate, hanging out at the bar sipping daquiris with his friend Haselbacher while struggling to make ends meet. He comes across as a meek man early on, following Hawthorne's orders to the letter during their barroom meeting even though he doesn't quite trust his new friend. Later on, as things fall apart, Wormold is clearly frightened, but keeps going on pride. At the end, he turns out to have the right stuff in him after all, creating a surprising dramatic ending. Actually, you might not be surprised if you watch the trailer first, since it uses that lone dramatic scene to tease at something more like The Third Man. Through it all, Guinness keeps viewers rooting for Wormold.

 

The rest of the cast is strong, even though Our Man in Havana is Guinness' operation from start to finish. As Segura, Ernie Kovacs plays tough, but seems to be concealing a silent admiration for the bogus spy. He also shines in one of the movie's silliest scenes, a chess drinking game between Segura and Wormold in which the players drink the miniature bottles of scotch and whiskey they capture. Burl Ives gets a few dramatic moments as Haselbacher, as when he takes in news of a death that may or may not be a fiction or shares with Wormold his own role in the problem. The performances are low-key, so that the implausibilities and absurdity seems almost realistic. You'll laugh out loud a few times, but the futility of it all will hit home as well.

 

It looks like there might have been some remastering on the picture; at any rate, I have no complaints. The tropical retro beat of the music by Frank and Laurence Deniz also excels.

 

 

 

Ourmaninhavana.jpg

 

 

*_Release date_:* 27 January 1960 (USA)

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WOW! What a film ...I just got done watching: _Our Man in Havana_ (1959) ...and well since some claim that the _The Third Man_ (1949) is "Film noir" ... & _Our Man in Havana_ (1959) was made by the same team .. and then yes I would consider _Our Man in Havana_ (1959) a Film noir!

 

 

I mean it has spies.....a semi-convoluted plot...but great direction...great cinematography..great cast...Alec Guinness & Maureen O'Hara had chemistry. Ms. O'Hara was smart..funny and sexy ...1st time I have seen her performance in this film, and she really sparkled! I love her water bottle scene.

 

Burl Ives ...WOW! What an actor. What a good role! Another role that the Academy over-looked for an Oscar Nod for Best Supporting Actor. His role as: Dr. Hasselbacher a mix of a man on "Just" on the brink of losing all touch with reality. Very good performance.

 

Alec Guinness ...what can I say ...Another genouis performance ..Again not looked at by the Oscar's. Very funny actor. I love his facial expressions. Priceless.

 

Great..dated ...Still holds up as a window into another era of Cold War espionage.

 

 

I'm a huge fan of British author Graham Greene. Most of his films lose something in translation to the screen...but they are still worth a look ... _The End of the Affair_ (1955) / _The End of the Affair_ (1999)

 

 

_The Quiet American_ (2002) ...skip the 1958 film ..I'm serious for once!...Watch the Re-Make Michael Caine & Brendan Fraser ...Very eye-opening. Though provoking film. Very good movie, close to the book, unlike the "Original".

 

 

This my 1st viewing of _Our Man in Havana_ (1959) ...that it will be 1 fun film that I will add to my DVD classic collection!

 

Final Rating: B+

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I am in agreement with Arkadin. *Our Man in Havana* is a very nice, droll comedy, not really a noir. But it is good that it's finally out on DVD. Before its DVD release, you could only hope to catch it when TCM showed it. :)

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