Les Espions

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A lunatic asylum in remote countryside, a top secret patient smuggled on to the premises at dead of night, the arrival in the village of a flock of sinister strangers. Turns out the Secret Service has invented a pretend spy to fox the foe and this is all in aid of spinning out the deception. The fiction-about-a-fiction idea aside, this bears no resemblance to Hitchcock's similar set up North by Northwest, and it's hard to know whether the wildly fluctuating tone was a matter of accident or design. The multi-national casting doesn't help, with the humourless Jurgens apparently suffering the agonies of the damned, and Peter Ustinov's very presence shifting all his scenes into waggishness. Beginning as Gothic horror, ending as cynical shaggy dog story, this is one of the more peculiar contributions to the '50s Cold War cycle.

Release details

Duration: 125 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Henri-Georges Clouzot
Screenwriter: Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi
Cast: Curd Jurgens
Peter Ustinov
Gérard Séty
Sam Jaffe
Paul Carpenter
Martita Hunt
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