1954: blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Asa Kaufman (Silver) arrives in London to work anonymously on scripts for the new independent television series 'Robin Hood'. Shattered by the news of the Hollywood suicide of his actor friend Cliff Byrne (Bochner) but unable to return home (he faces a HUAC subpoena), Asa enlists the reluctant help of Cliff's ex-lover Sarah (Stubbs), and dredges through his dreams and memories in search of clues to Cliff's death. As scripted by Michael Eaton, this McCarthy-period thriller interweaves numerous themes: guilt, confession and repression; privacy, paranoia and betrayal; the difference between America and Britain in the '50s; the role played by obsession in artistic creativity; the conflict between Marxist and freudian concepts of socio-political change. But it's also a moody, gripping suspense drama, reminiscent of classic film noir, its tortuous narrative full of mysterious flashbacks and dream sequences. Saville elicits some very fine performances, notably from Silver, and Travanti as a 'pink shrink' who treats Hollywood's Left; but finally it's the sheer wealth of detail and the uncommonly intelligent ambitions of the script that carry the day.
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