Friday, April 15, 2016


Below is a list of my ten favorite spy thrillers from the past 80 years in chronological. By the way, there are no James Bond, Derek Flint, Jason Bourne or Tom Clancy films on this list: 


"The Lady Vanishes" (1938) - Alfred Hitchcock directed this adaptation of Ethel Lina White's 1936 novel, "The Wheel Spins",about an English tourist traveling by train through continental Europe, who discovers that her elderly travelling companion has disappeared from the train. Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave starred.

"Notorious" (1946) - This Alfred Hitchcock movie, which is a personal favorite of mine, is about two people - an American intelligence agent and the daughter of a convicted Nazi spy - whose lives become intimately entangled during an espionage operation in South America to infiltrate a group of Germans who have relocated to Brazil after World War II. The movie starred Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains.

"The Tall Target" (1951) - A discredited New York City detective tries, in the face of disbelievers, to foil a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln as he travels on the Ohio & Baltimore Railway to his inauguration in 1861. The movie starred Dick Powell, Paula Raymond, Adolphe Menjou, Marshall Thompson and future Oscar nominee, Ruby Dee.

"The Manchurian Candidate" (1962) - The original, and in my opinion, the best version of Richard Condon's 1959 novel about the son of a prominent, right-wing political family that has been brainwashed as an unwitting assassin for an international Communist conspiracy. Starred Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, James Gregory and a superb Angela Landsbury, who was nominated for her performance as Harvey's manipulative mother.

"The Day of the Jackal" (1973) - Edward Fox starred in this excellent thriller based upon Fredrick Forsyth's 1971 novel about an assassin known only as "the Jackal", who is hired by French right-wingers to assassinate Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Michael Lonsdale co-starred as the French Police Commissioner assigned to stop him.


"No Way Out" (1987) - Roger Donaldson directed this remake of the 1948 movie, "THE BIG CLOCK". In this version, U.S. Naval intelligence officer assigned to the Pentagon discovers that his boss, the Secretary of Defense, is trying to cover up the murder of his mistress with a fake mole hunt. The movie starred Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman, Will Patton and Sean Young.

"Ronin" (1998) - Directed by John Frankenheimer, this exciting and first-rate thriller starred Robert De Niro and Jean Reno as two of several former special forces and intelligence agents who team up to steal a mysterious, heavily guarded suitcase while navigating a maze of shifting loyalties and alliances.

"Munich" (2005) - Steven Spielberg directed this superb, yet controversial Oscar nominated film about a semi-fictionalized account of the Israeli government's secret retaliation against the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli Olympic athletes by Black September gunmen. The film starred Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, CiarĂ¡n Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Geoffrey Rush, Ayelet Zurer, Mathieu Amalric and Michael Lonsdale.


"Breach" (2007) - Chris Cooper and Ryan Phillippe starred in this true-life account about young FBI agent Eric O'Neill, recruited to spy on veteran Robert Hanssen, who was believed to be selling government secrets to the Soviet Union (later Russia). Directed by Billy Ray, the movie co-starred Kathleen Quinlan.

"Vantage Point" (2008) - Despite its mixed reception by critics, I truly enjoyed this unique movie about an assassination attempt on a U.S. president in Salmanca, Spain; during a 23-minute period. Told in a time loop from the perspective of different characters, this movie starred Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forrest Whittaker, William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver.

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