Spy Went Out Into the Cold

DATELINE: Not Sean Connery, or even Daniel Craig!

  Kim Philby in Moscow grave.

One of the most notorious real spies was a man named Kim Philby. He was a Cambridge, class-oriented Brit upper-crustaceon. Put James Bond out of your mind. This was a slimey limey traitor with charm and sociopathic standards. Spy Who Went Out into the Cold  is a nasty person

Back in the 1930s all his friends were in the spy business. It was a social means of fulfilling one’s communist principles. He was recruited by the Soviets and became an ultimate hypocrite. His friends became the right-wing aristocratic class. He fit in, and they all loved his wit and debonair attitude. He was a spy out of the Noel Coward school of blithe spirits.

Some claimed he was two people; how else could he betray his family, friends, and country? His attitude was that Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and other high rankers were simply idiots.

Kim Philby recruited his gay friends Burgess and McLean to be the bottom line of spy workers.

After World War II, it became bad business when the Soviets became cold war opponents. Burgess and McLean could not take the heat and defected, leaving J. Edgar Hoover to look for a “third man,” their enabler. It was Kim Philby, but his charm and friends helped him skate off in the coverup.

The film does a wonderful job in digging up old compatriots, finding photos and newsreels to depict Philby’s life of indolent drinking and fake journalism in Beirut for few years.

The truth was he was a despicable drunkard who had no scruples. When the authorities offered him a deal to continue to coverup and placate Hoover, he defected on a Soviet trawler. He lived his final years in Moscow, apparently unfazed by his low-life.

In the late 1980s with the Soviet Union crumbling, they dusted him off before burying him. He did not receive the justice he deserved: a firing squad.

 

 

 

Dangerous Edge: Greene for Danger

DATELINE:  Literary Marvel

Greene  The Other Shade of Greene

Before Graham Greene was known as a Native American actor and movie star, he was one of the most important writers of the 20th century.  Oh, they were different people with the same name.

British writer Greene joined Hemingway as a character as vivid as his heroes of fiction. Like them, he was a converted Roman Catholic with severe doubts and moral lapses. He was, like them, often a writer and journalist, and he shared a background as a spy with many of his literary heroes. He was not a nice man.

And he loved to write movie reviews. Well, he wasn’t all bad.

As a cinematic novelist, his works often reached the screen with great influence: from This Gun for Hire, The Third Man,  Power and Glory, The Comedians, Our Man in Havana, Brighton Rock, The Quiet American, Travels with my Aunt, and on and on.

He seemed always to visit a far-off location right before it blew up into an international crisis spot: from Cuba to Haiti to Vietnam.

As a boy, his father was the headmaster of their school—and all his classmates regarded him as a spy for the old man. The notion stuck.

He was notoriously promiscuous and a womanizer, as well as an inveterate traveler. He was virulently anti-American for the most part—and loathed the movies that messed up his message (Quiet American Audie Murphy comes to mind, which can be seen in the book Audie Murphy in Vietnam by William Russo).

He defended notorious Communist Kim Philby, the Brit spy, and one of his closest friends. He accepted honors from the Soviet Union, but not from the Nobel Prize committee. No wonder the FBI and CIA kept him under surveillance.

Greene was also a suicidal manic-depressive most of the time, though he lived until his 80s and finally came to realize his mission was to write. He believed his work ultimately was his life and his identity. He was not far wrong.

The documentary about his life, Dangerous Edge, even features people like John LeCarre, his likely successor in literature, and the film uses many clips from the famous movies. He used to call his less serious work “entertainments,” but it all ended up as serious and entertaining.