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HUMAN FACTOR

 Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product Description

Oscar® winner John Gielgud*, Derek Jacobi, Richard Attenborough and Nicol Williamson star in this intriguing take of spies and counterspies, based on Graham Greene's brilliant novel. When a leak in the British Secret Service is discovered in Russia, two agents become the target of the government's investigation: Arthur Davis (Jacobi), a high-living bachelor whose attempts at a secret rendezvous with a woman arouse the suspicions of his superiors; and Maurice Castle (Williamson), who eight years earlier had defied his government by falling in love with an African woman (supermodel Iman) and helping her escape to England to become his wife. Ironically, one of the men is selling secrets to the Communists, and in the course of the investigation, the suspected double agent is eliminated by the government. But did they kill the wrong man? Directed by Otto Preminger (Advise and Consent) and written by Tom Stoppard (Empire of the Sun), The Human Factor contains multi-layered plot twists that will keep you in suspense until the climactic finale! *1981: Best Supporting Actor - Arthur.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
From Saul Bass' incredible opening title to the final heartbreaking moment of love lost in the midst of espionage and bureaucracy, Preminger is at his utmost brilliance. He juxtaposes so skillfully from the hazardous pyrotechnics of spying and lying to the domestic side of the men he documents, never succumbing to mundane action, chases or shootouts. Sure, the subject matter may have been covered before, but not ever with such precision. Talky? Maybe. Psychological? Definitely, and that is the overall point. This is what Preminger was trying to do. Not glamorize spies by putting them in elaborate action setpieces, but really delving into the utter domesticity of the business. Some critics have called it "routine." On the contrary, there is great filmmaking to be had here, and the acting is on target all the way. Iman, in her movie debut, was a little cardboard at times, but that is to be expected. It is fair to say from an audience point of view that there is always an ambience at work in Preminger films to suggest something deeper than whatever onscreen tactics are occupying the foreground.
I have never had the privelege of reading the source novel, but intend to very soon. It tells the story of the forced defection of British government desk clerk Castle (Nicol Williamson). This is a man stuck precariously in a complex struggle between the fight for the happy, Calvinistic life and the loyalty to king and country. Castle fell in love with an African woman and called upon a Socialist friend to smuggle her back to England to lead a family. Now that he is settled, the friend asks for a favor in return, and this includes leaking information. It is also notable that the narrative does not limit itself to the daunting world of international intrigue.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dry, but faithful May 20 2001
Format:VHS Tape
I recently watched this film on cable television (I haven't actually seen the video). Assuming that the version I saw wasn't edited, I wonder why the "R" rating? As to excitement, true, there are no car chases or shootouts (other than the excellent hunting scene at C's country estate), but fans of Graham Greene will find this adaptation very faithful to the novel. This story is considered by many familiar with the world of espionage to be one of the most accurate and realistic "spy" movies ever made. Greene's subtle but gripping movement towards the inevitable conclusion is characteristic of his best books.
The cast is superb, with the unfortunate exception of Iman as Sarah. Maybe this was her first role, as she often appears stiff.
Certainly worth watching for readers of G. Greene, perhaps the best English novelist of the 20th century.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dry, but faithful May 20 2001
By Robert Bunn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
I recently watched this film on cable television (I haven't actually seen the video). Assuming that the version I saw wasn't edited, I wonder why the "R" rating? As to excitement, true, there are no car chases or shootouts (other than the excellent hunting scene at C's country estate), but fans of Graham Greene will find this adaptation very faithful to the novel. This story is considered by many familiar with the world of espionage to be one of the most accurate and realistic "spy" movies ever made. Greene's subtle but gripping movement towards the inevitable conclusion is characteristic of his best books.
The cast is superb, with the unfortunate exception of Iman as Sarah. Maybe this was her first role, as she often appears stiff.
Certainly worth watching for readers of G. Greene, perhaps the best English novelist of the 20th century.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Preminger...a superlative screen adaptation. June 15 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
From Saul Bass' incredible opening title to the final heartbreaking moment of love lost in the midst of espionage and bureaucracy, Preminger is at his utmost brilliance. He juxtaposes so skillfully from the hazardous pyrotechnics of spying and lying to the domestic side of the men he documents, never succumbing to mundane action, chases or shootouts. Sure, the subject matter may have been covered before, but not ever with such precision. Talky? Maybe. Psychological? Definitely, and that is the overall point. This is what Preminger was trying to do. Not glamorize spies by putting them in elaborate action setpieces, but really delving into the utter domesticity of the business. Some critics have called it "routine." On the contrary, there is great filmmaking to be had here, and the acting is on target all the way. Iman, in her movie debut, was a little cardboard at times, but that is to be expected. It is fair to say from an audience point of view that there is always an ambience at work in Preminger films to suggest something deeper than whatever onscreen tactics are occupying the foreground.
I have never had the privelege of reading the source novel, but intend to very soon. It tells the story of the forced defection of British government desk clerk Castle (Nicol Williamson). This is a man stuck precariously in a complex struggle between the fight for the happy, Calvinistic life and the loyalty to king and country. Castle fell in love with an African woman and called upon a Socialist friend to smuggle her back to England to lead a family. Now that he is settled, the friend asks for a favor in return, and this includes leaking information. It is also notable that the narrative does not limit itself to the daunting world of international intrigue. For instance, the scene where Richard Attenborough invites Williamson to his daughter's wedding because he does not want his wife to think that he has no friends, or the scene in the strip club with Morley, in an excellent performance, looking on at the cautious stripper. Incidentally, why is this film rated R? The strip club scene was handled with great discretion and there is no profanity or sexual matter to merit its rating. Otto's ROSEBUD was more worthy of the R-rating than this film.
The detailed flashbacks, which shows the audience why Williamson's character was forced to leak information to the Russians, are tainted with strange aphrodisia. This element makes takes these scenes to the hilt.
Internal conflict is at play here as Williamson awaits the point to where the struggle between domesticity and loyalty push him beyond good and evil (no, this is not a reference to Nietschze). Preminger had a firm handle on Graham Greene's original novel and he had something to say. The problem is that most critics are so impatient to watch the next movie to actually pinpoint purpose and excellence. In any case, it is worth whatever it takes to see it. Either that, or being a Preminger nut has forced me to think that his films cannot be touched with a ten-foot pole. And don't get me wrong, he deserves the acclaim.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest Espionage (if there be such a beast) Aug. 30 2012
By Towelclerk - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Very low key in many aspects, this film steals into your brain just as surely as a successful spy purloins State secrets. Nicol Williamson's portrait of a spy forced to "go home" before his non-secret life can be fulfilled is really never forgotten. And Iman, in her first film role, is admittedly stiff and somewhat two-dimensional, but again, the portrait drawn lingers in a viewer's mind long after the celluloid's finished running. It was Otto Preminger's final film, and rumor has it that many of the cast were never paid; financial problems beset the entire production effort to the point Preminger had to sell some of his art collection to get the film released commercially. Well, he sure did the right thing.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Cast Enacting one of Graham Greene's Moral Dilemmas March 28 2014
By George S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Terrific cast in this effective adaptation of a Graham Greene novel. Nicol Williamson is especially good. My only reservation is that there are sudden flashbacks to South Africa, and the transitions leave the viewer wondering, at least momentarily, when and where the action is taking place.
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