Cicely Tyson as the mother

A critical and box office hit, Oscar-nominated and a movie now preserved by the US National Film Registry, Martin Ritt’s Sounder is one of those important films that no one seems to talk about any more. It seems to have been forgotten, or is a cult being kept alive by a small band of devotees. Perhaps it got lost in the undergrowth, along with films like the comparatively well known Silent Running, because it’s a movie from 1972 and so was squeezed out by the competition in one of the mega years – The Godfather, Cabaret, Deliverance, Solaris, Sleuth, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Carry On Matron (I’m joking). Or maybe it’s … Read more

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold

Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came In from the Cold

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 19 December Birth of Leonid Brezhnev, 1906 On this day in 1906, the very last old-school leader of the USSR was born. Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev was born into Tsarist Russia, the son of workers. Thanks to an education at a technical school he became a metallurgist, joined Komsomol (the Communist youth movement) and started to make his way in the party, becoming a political commissar in a tank factory by the age of 30, and eventually party secretary in Dnipropetrovsk, a Ukrainian city intimately connected to the arms industry. As a result of Stalin’s purges in the late 1930s, Brezhnev advanced … Read more

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold

Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Based on the breakthrough novel by former spy John Le Carré, shot in black and white to suggest that espionage is unglamorous, dirty work and starring a hollowed out Richard Burton, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is as far from James Bond as it’s possible to get – further, even than Michael Caine’s Harry Palmer of the Ipcress File. Telling the story of a jaded spy who is busted to a desk job in London and then recruited by East German intelligence – or that’s what they think – it’s a bleak marvel, as redolent of the drab side of the 1960s as the smell of a wet duffel coat. Martin … Read more