Our Man In Havana Carol Reed

Our Man In Havana Carol Reed
Our Man In Havana reunites the writer/director dream team of Graham Green and Coral Reed, who made the magnificent thriller The Third Man. This collaboration once again combines an intelligently constructed comedy/thriller plot, movie star stunt casting in the form of Alec Guinness and an incredibly photogenic but politically unstable locale (pre-revolutionary Cuba). All the pieces were in place for a second atmospheric masterpiece that could have been called The Third Man 2: Havana Nights. Sadly, that's not the film that Our Man In Havana would become. It's still a strong movie that holds up well after 50 years but the film is just not a timeless masterpiece like its predecessor. Alec Guinness stars as the owner of a vacuum store in Cuba who wishes he could afford his daughter's ever-expanding lifestyle. The opportunity to make the extra money presents itself in a peculiar fashion. Guinness meets a British spy who offers to pay a substantial fee in exchange for inside information on Cuba. Guinness accepts and soon creates an entire imaginary cast of employee spies, cashing their checks as well as his own each week. When his superiors demand information, Guinness simply sends them vacuum blueprints, claiming they're weapon plans. Things get tense when Guinness's faux spy activities are misinterpreted as real and his daughter starts to win the affections of a particularly violent member of the Havana police force. The plot is very clever and the film offers some very entertaining black comedy but ultimately, the entire thing feels a little insubstantial. Sure, there is the underlying commentary about the British government's unnecessary involvement in the affairs of distant countries but it never adds up to much. Instead, the movie plays best as light entertainment, and on that level succeeds wonderfully. Reed also crams in a few gorgeous suspense sequences that take full advantage of the natural Havana locations, but nothing like the non-stop eye candy in The Third Man. Our Man In Havana is a solid movie, if a little dated, and required viewing for fans of classic cinema and unrelenting British-ness. The barebones DVD offers little more than a theatrical trailer and two brief martini-themed featurettes that somehow manage to be even more useless than they sound. For the record, there are no martinis in the film. (Sony)