Quiller Memorandum, The (1966 with George Segal and Alec Guiness)


UK / 1966

Director: Michael Anderson
Writer: Harold Pinter (from a novel by Adam Hall)

Cast: George Segal, Alec Guinness, Max von Sydow, Senta Berger, George Sanders, Robert Helpmann, Robert Flemyng, Peter Carsten, Edith Schneider, Gunter Meisner, Ernst Walder, Philip Madoc, John Rees

Intelligent, atmospheric spy thriller adapted by Harold Pinter from Adam Hall’s best-selling novel, starring George Segal, Alec Guinness and Max von Sydow.

The British secret service has lifted the lid on a neo-Nazi plot brewing in Berlin. After two of his agents have been killed, spymaster Pol (Guinness) drafts in American operative Quiller (Segal) to help. His job, to locate the headquarters of the fascist faction and expose ringleader Oktober (von Sydow).

His first lead comes after a schoolmaster hangs himself when he’s accused of war crimes. Quiller thinks he’s found an ally in Inge (Senta Berger), the teacher’s gorgeous replacement. But when he’s drugged and kidnapped from her apartment, Quiller realises that he can trust no-one, not even Pol and his minions. All alone, he edges towards the heart of the neo-Nazi network, and the deeper he goes, the clearer it becomes that Oktober is in charge of far more than a crackpot conspiracy.

Quiller is a rogue trooper, a nervy, laconic soul whose only weapon in the battlefield of counter-intelligence is his razor-sharp mind. Indeed, he’s as different to the usual crop of gun-toting screen spies as this film is to the rest of the genre. Scripted by Harold Pinter from the best-selling novel by Adam Hall (aka. Elleston Trevor), The Quiller Memorandum avoids easy thrills and spills with its spartan approach. As Variety mentioned, “It relies on straight narrative storyline, simple but holding, literate dialog (sic) and well-drawn characters,” creating a cerebral, sinister and ultimately very exciting film.