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The Kremlin Letter

Screening on Film
Directed by John Huston.
With Bibi Andersson, Richard Boone, Nigel Green.
US, 1970, 35mm, color, 116 min.
Print source: HFA

Dismissed at its release as merely a formulaic spy adventure, Huston's complex Cold War epic The Kremlin Letter is among his most ambitious and least understood late works. The film's unsparing fatalism, claustrophobia and cruelty were, however, deeply admired by master of sang froid Jean-Pierre Melville who declared The Kremlin Letter to "establish the standard for cinema." Deliberately working against genre and box office expectations, Huston assembled and boldly, at times perversely, counter-cast a dazzling array of stars – Bibi Andersson, George Sanders, Max Von Sydow, Orson Welles – to reimagine the Cold War as a lurid, sadistic and brutal hotbed of deception.

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