Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"The Defector" a Good Spy Yarn

Cleveland Press March 6, 1967

"The Defector" is a spy movie, but not of the James Bond type. In its philosophy -- though not in execution -- it is a cousin to "The Spy Came In From the Cold." In both films the message seems to be that the cold war is nasty, dirty, drab and that there are cold blooded connivers on both sides of the Iron Curtain.

It fails to come up to its predecessor in other respects. Though well acted and well photographed, the movie is uneven, has a script that is full of implausible holes.

The movie was the last one made by Montgomery Clift before he died last July. Perhaps the knowledge of this fact colors judgment of his performance. Clift's portrayal is done with his accustomed intensity but in addition there is an air of weariness about him.

CLIFT PORTRAYS AN AMERICAN PHYSICIST on his way to visit museums in Leipzig who is diverted from his original mission with some nasty arm twisting by the CIA. Instead he is to contact a Russian physicist who may turn defector.

East German and Russian intelligence are on to him and one of Clift's enemies (Hardy Kruger) turns out to be a physicist whose job it is to persuade Clift to defect

There's much double and triple crossing, murder, attempted brain washing and close escapes before it is over. At one point Clift finds his hotel room has been turned into a torture chamber that works on his mind.

THIS FLIGHT INTO THE REALM of the grotesque is interesting by itself but presents a discordant note in otherwise total realism.

The movie was filmed entirely in and around Munich, offers the flavor of the locale. It is fresh in that this area is not so overused as Berlin where most of the spy films are being done.

The chase sequence is an excellent one without getting into the area of being impossible, offers some fascinatingly tense moments.

There is more than one twist at the end of this movie and one particularly subtle and surprising one at the very end. Watch for it.