One of the strangest and most mercurial movies ever made in Hollywood (1962). A veritable salad of mixed genres and emotional textures, this exciting black-and-white cold war thriller runs more than two hours and never flags for an instant. Produced by director John Frankenheimer and screenwriter George Axelrod, the film was made with an unusual amount of freedom, which pays off in multiple dividends. It's conceivably the only commercial American film that deserves to be linked with the French New Wave, full of visual and verbal wit that recalls Orson Welles. Angela Lansbury and Laurence Harvey, both brilliantly cast, have never been better; Sinatra and Janet Leigh have never been used as weirdly; and the talented secondary cast—including James Gregory, James Edwards, Leslie Parrish, John McGiver, and Khigh Dhiegh—is never less than effective. A powerful experience, alternately corrosive with dark parodic humor, suspenseful, moving, and terrifying.
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