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Our Man in Havana

Alec Guinness , Maureen O'Hara , Carol Reed    DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent sur toute la ligne Feb. 6 2013
By MFJ
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Le produit m'a été livré dans le délai prévu. La qualité mentionnée était exacte. Je suis très satisfait et je recommande fortement ce vendeur. Excellent sur toute la ligne !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Typical Greene/Reed March 8 2011
By Eric S
Format:DVD
If you call yourself a fan of Carol Reed, then I have no doubt you will enjoy this film.

This film is right on par with The Third Man and The Fallen Idol, as it is complete with quirky dialogue, quirky plot twists, uncomfortable situations (which Reed does excellently), and perfect camera-work.

If that is not enough, Alec Guiness delivers a wonderful performance, and just in case you want more star power, Burl Ives, Noel Coward, and Ralph Richardson all have some excellent scenes and wonderful performances. A personal favorite of mine is Richardson's reaction and resolution to the problem - done so carelessly yet so casually. Wonderful.

This film will no doubt become a yearly watch for me. I sincerely enjoyed this film.
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By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Columbia Pictures Corporation presents "OUR MAN IN HAVANA" (1959) (111 min/B&W) -- Starring Alec Guinness, Burl Ives, Maureen O'Hara, Ernie Kovacs, Noel Coward & Ralph Richardson

Directed by Carol Reed

Jim Wormald (Alec Guiness) is an Englishman selling vacuum cleaners in Cuba on the cusp of the 1959 Castro-led revolution. Hawthorne (Noel Coward), a British intelligence agent, is looking for information on Cuban affairs and recruits Jim to act as a spy. Jim has no experience in espionage and no useful knowledge to pass along, but Hawthorne is willing to pay for his services, and since Jim's daughter Milly (Jo Morrow) has expensive tastes, he can use the money. To keep Hawthorne happy (and his paychecks coming in), he turns in reports on the Cuban revolution that are copied from public documents, "hires" additional agents who don't exist, and presents blueprints of secret weapons that are actually schematics of his carpet sweepers. However, Hawthorne and his associate `C' (Ralph Richardson) think that Jim is doing splendid work and encourage him to continue; meanwhile, Capt. Segura (Ernie Kovacs), the corrupt chief of police, has been fooled by Jim's charade into believing he's a real spy - and has also become attracted to Milly.

Great supporting roles for Burl Ives and Maureen O'Hara in this witty comedy inspired by Cold War paranoia and penned by Graham Greene.

BIOS:
1. Carol Reed (Director)
Date of Birth: 30 December 1906 - Putney, London, England, UK
Date of Death: 25 April 1976 - Chelsea, London, England, UK

2. Alec Guinness [aka: Alec Guinness de Cuffe]
Date of Birth: 2 April 1914 - Marylebone, London, England, UK
Date of Death: 5 August 2000 - Midhurst, Sussex, England, UK

3.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  79 reviews
61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow-building, surprisingly subtle comedy of spying Feb. 6 2002
By Stephen O. Murray - Published on Amazon.com
Sir Carol Reed's 1960 film of Graham Greene's "Our Man in Havana" gets off to a slow start. The expatriate British widower Jim Wormold (Alec Guinness) is having difficulty making enough money to support the expensive tastes of his cherished teenaged daughter Milly (Jo Morrow), who has caught the idea of a Batista torturer and equestrian, Capt. Segura (Ernie Kovacs). The British spymaster for the Caribbean (Noël Coward) insists that Wormold become a British secret agent, and Wormold decides to take the money and when pressed for results, concocts nonsense "intelligence."
His ludicrous inventions, including a military installation he invents out of vacuum cleaner parts, are taken very seriously. As in Greene's "The Third Man" (also filmed by Reed) and "The Quiet American" (filmed by Joseph Mankiewicz), ignorance ("innocence") proves to be extremely dangerous to others. This film is not as great as those other two, but has a very strong cast (including Burl Ives as a German doctor, Maureen O'Hara as a plucky M16 professional sent to assist Wormold, and Ralph Richardson as the agency head back in London) and splendid black-and-white cinematography of Havana almost as good as that of Vienna and Hanoi in the other two films. The camerawork is by Oswald Morris, John Huston's cinematographer on another, broader 1950s spy spoof (Beat the Devil) and other films (including the 1952 Moulin Rouge, Moby Dick, The Roots of Heaven, The Man who Would be King, and Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison) plus Kubrick's "Lolita" and Reed's "Oliver!"
Guinness (who had a career in spying movies ahead of him!) delivers a subtle performance. More unexpectedly, so does Ernie Kovacs, who was generally a very broad and antic comic. A thuggish police officer in a Latin American dictatorship is an easy target, but Kovacs draws on the tradition of cortesia and is considerably more professional than the M16 establishment that turns out to be at least as devoted as he is to keeping up appearances. Burl Ives (who long outlived Kovacs, but stopped getting roles like those in which he was so memorable in the late 1950s) also delivers a subtle performance as he is dragged into the madness Wormold's fantasies unleash.
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vacuum cleaners, Cuba and death: Another great movie from director Carol Reed and writer Graham Greene Jan. 10 2009
By C. O. DeRiemer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Our Man in Havana is an excellent, sly black comedy with a screenplay by Graham Greene and directed by Carol Reed. James Wormold (Alec Guinness) is a vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana. He's getting by but needs more money to take care of his teen-aged daughter. He's recruited as a spy for Britain by Noel Coward. He doesn't really know what's wanted, but he can use the money. Since he doesn't know anything of value, he begins making up stories and inventing plans, and mentioning the names of people supposedly involved. The names, of course, are just names he picked at random. His masterpiece is his "discovery" of a giant military complex, the plans of which he gets to his controller (Coward), who sends them on to London. The plans are actually the diagrams of one of his vacuum cleaners. This first part of the movie is a funny, sharp-edged parody of British pomposity and the thick headedness of "intelligence."

But then people begin to die.

It seems there may be more than British spies in Havana, spies who also believe the plans are genuine, and who are a lot more ruthless than the British. The second half of the film is darker, less funny and much more sardonic.

The cast is a strange grouping of disparate acting styles, but somehow they all work very well together. In addition to Guinness and Coward, there is Burl Ives, Ernie Kovacs, Maureen O'Hara and Ralph Richardson. Coward is priceless as a mannered, fatuous, obliviously incompetent spy. Kovacs for once is less Kovacs and more the part. He plays the Cuban police's main man in catching spies. He's amusing, and so are his lines. Among them, "There are two classes of people: those who can be tortured and those who can't." He and Guinness share a great scene where Guinness, who has to get away from Kovacs, challenges him to a checkers match with the pieces being miniature liquor bottles. Each time a piece is taken, the victor has to drink it. Guinness manages to lose regularly. Kovacs preens on his victories and only gradually, and increasingly incoherently, begins to suspect.

For Reed, who directed The Third Man, Odd Man Out, The Fallen Idol and other classic films, this is, in my opinion, the last of his first-rate movies. For years it has needed a Region 1 DVD release. There is a fine Region 2 DVD which I have. I'll add to this review if there are any significant differences or extras.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Vintage Guinness March 30 2004
By JMB1014 - Published on Amazon.com
Alec Guinness gives a terrifically funny performance as Wormold, a reluctant, middle-aged British resident of Havana who is approached by his country's desperate, and ridiculously credulous, "intelligence service" to do his patriotic duty and become a part-time spy. Wormold is also the lonely father of a nubile daughter and he needs extra money to answer her increasingly expensive wishes. The government will pay well. One day, rather hopelessly and absently, he sketches the interior of a vacuum cleaner he is supposed to be selling at his modest business, pretending his sketch pertains to some dangerous, real-life strategic device. His secret agent employers are elated. They send Wormold money. Unfortunately, they also become desperate for more "intelligence" from the now equally desperate Wormold. As he invents ever more outrageous fictions, the spy masters grow ever more fascinated. Then comes the kicker: Wormold's elaborate fantasies begin to come true. He has created a monster, in effect. The complexities of his imaginary spy world begin to envelope him. The outcome is terrible - and terribly funny. The subtle comic genius of Guinness may be lost on some American audiences, or it may be just your cup of tea. I laughed till I cried. I have never forgotten this movie since I saw it when I was an English major, studying Graham Greene, among others. I eagerly await its issuance in DVD.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Secret Agent Jan. 3 2009
By Richard P. Byrne - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
A simply wonderful adaptation by Graham Greene of his book about how an unwitting British expatriate who is having difficulty supporting his daughter's expensive habits as a vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana is recruited to become a secret agent for the British government. The movie is intelligent, witty, and timely with great casting and excellent performances. While billed as a tongue-in-cheek comedy, it may not be too far from the truth in shedding light on how governments recruit their spies, obtain secret information, and cover their tracks. The film is excellent - and the book is, too.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This Movie Deserves To Be On DVD Oct. 4 2004
By C. O. DeRiemer - Published on Amazon.com
This is a very funny black comedy with a screenplay by Graham Greene and directed by Carol Reed. James Wormold (Alec Guinness) is a vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana. He's getting by but needs more money to take care of his teen-aged daughter. He's recruited as a spy for Britain by Noel Coward. He doesn't really know what's wanted, but he can use the money. Since he doesn't know anything of value, he begins making up stories and inventing plans, and mentioning the names of people supposedly involved. The names, of course, are just names he picked at random. His masterpiece is his "discovery" of a giant military complex, the plans of which he gets to his controller (Coward) who sends them on the London. The plans are actually the diagrams of one of his vacuum cleaners. This first part of the movie is a funny, sharp-edged parody of British pomposity and the thick headedness of "intelligence."

But then people begin to die.

It seems there may be more than British spies in Havana, spies who also believe the plans are genuine, and who are a lot more ruthless than the British. The second half of the film is darker, less funny and much more sardonic.

The cast is a strange grouping of disparate acting styles, but somehow they all work very well together. In addition to Guinness and Coward, there is Burl Ives, Ernie Kovacs, Maureen O'Hara and Ralph Richardson. Coward is priceless as a mannered, fatuous, obliviously incompetent spy. Kovacs for once is less Kovacs and more the part. He plays the Cuban police's main man in catching spies. He's amusing, and so are his lines. Among them, "There are two classes of people: those who can be tortured and those who can't." He and Guinness share a great scene where Guinness, who has to get away from Kovacs, challenges him to a checkers match with the pieces being miniature liquor bottles. Each time a piece is taken, the victor has to drink it. Guinness manages to lose regularly. Kovacs preens on his victories and only gradually, and increasingly incoherently, begins to suspect.

For Reed, who directed The Third Man, Odd Man Out, The Fallen Idol and other classic films, this is, in my opinion, the last of his first-rate movies. He continued to direct but made such things as The Key, Oliver! and The Agony and the Ecstasy.

This is a film that cries out to be on DVD. It's not even available on VHS. I taped it three or four years ago when it was on cable and watched it again over the weekend. Keep an eye out for it if its ever released. It's a very good movie.
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