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Cambridge Spies (Dbl DVD)
This moody BBC 2003 dramatization of the most notorious debacle in the history of the British Secret Service raises the specter of the treachery of Philby, Burgess, MacLean, and Blunt for a generation of viewers who can only imagine the shockwaves generated by their duplicity. Inevitably the story suffers from the basically repellent quality of its raw material. Determinedly nonjudgmental, it frequently stumbles along a precarious path between romantic eulogy and fact-based fable of the perils of idealism. For all the handsome casting, the characters have little charm to compensate for their deeds. Their motivations are sketched only vaguely. Even in moments of personal vulnerability, however poignant the performances, sympathy is at a premium. But it has its high points as an atmospheric soap opera: the recreation of a period that stretches from the radical aspects of 1930s university life at Cambridge to cold war London, dipping into the Spanish Civil War and the Washington diplomatic circle en route, is vivid. The acting, too, is fine. Tom Hollander's rampantly dissolute Burgess verges constantly on parody. But Toby Stephens (Philby), Samuel West (a frosty Blunt), and Rupert Penry-Jones (an emotionally wrung-out MacLean) work wonders with Peter Moffat's insubstantial script. --Piers Ford
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Top Customer Reviews
All of the actors are superb with Tom Hollander as Guy Burgess a standout. The production is on a par with some of the best BBC productions that I have had the privilege of seeing. With the gorgeous sets and costumes, it creates a feeling of the era that is being portrayed.
If you are into historical presentations and love superb acting buy this DVD.
This dramatization is too detailed on romance and does not focus on the real events enough. The amazing aspect is that they got away with it for so long but there should have been more explananation of the changing world events to illustrate this. The motivation of the four is never clear and the damage they caused is never explained.
If you like English dramas, you will probably like this. But for me far too much time is dedicated to the love affairs of the group and even though you would expect a true story about espionage during world war II and the cold war would be thrilling and exhilarating this is rather dull and boring. Good acting, good direction but a bit too much soft focus.
Slow moving and no 'punch ups' but that is what makes it good.
Most recent customer reviews
good copy, clean, clear. and with my favorite, the delish Rupert Penry-Jones in an early movie, simply delightful. Read morePublished 17 months ago by tseliotess
Great movie, difficult trying to fit that much history in 5 hrs but they did manage the major issues. I have rewatched it several times and enjoy it every time.Published 23 months ago by Brian Talty
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