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The Quiller Memorandum
The Quiller Memorandum
Actors: George Segal, Alec Guinness, Max von Sydow, Senta Berger, George Sanders
Director: Michael Anderson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2006     1hr 44min

With little else to help him beyond sharp wits, a strong will and a very dedicated schoolteacher, American spy Quiller (Segal) combs West Berlin for the headquarters of a shadowy neo-Nazi movement. Closing in on one distur...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: George Segal, Alec Guinness, Max von Sydow, Senta Berger, George Sanders
Director: Michael Anderson
Creators: Erwin Hillier, Frederick Wilson, Ivan Foxwell, Harold Pinter, Trevor Dudley Smith
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 11/07/2006
Original Release Date: 12/15/1966
Theatrical Release Date: 12/15/1966
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 44min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 7
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English, German

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Movie Reviews

Often overlooked and I don't know why!
Michael Cavalero | Virginia | 05/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

""The Quiller memorandum" is an unfortunately often overlooked Cold War-era spy thriller that is an excellent example of the genre. Set in a divided Berlin, it pits our hero, Quiller of MI-6 (played with world-weary, casual aplomb by the wonderful George Segal) against an evil underground cell of resurgent neo-Nazis, led by Max von Sydow. The beautiful German actress Senta Berger literally glows on the screen and features in an interesting plot twist made all the more disturbing by her on-screen job as a school teacher. The incredible Alec Guiness, in a small but critical role as Pol, epitomizes the faintly creepy, ever-inscrutable British spymaster that one never knows is friend or foe. Elegantly directed on location by Michael Anderson, it stands with "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" as one of the two best 'non-James Bondish" spy films of the late 60's. STRONGLY recommended!!"
Seen an advance copy of the DVD and it's a real treat
Darren Harrison | Washington D.C. | 11/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Based on the best selling 1965 novel by Adam Hall, this movie starring the likes of George Segal, Alec Guinness, Max Von Sydow and Senta Berger remains fairly faithful to the source novel except in the miscasting of Segal in the lead role. In the novel Quiller is British, but here Segal plays him as an American agent - and it doesn't work as well as it might. There is for example no explanation given as to why Quiller is working for the British and reporting to a British handler. Still, the movie is an intelligent and tautly constructed thriller as Segal scours through Berlin looking for the ringleaders of a shadowy neo-Nazi organization.
The lead special feature for "The Quiller Memorandum" is an audio commentary conducted by film historians Eddie Friedfeld and Lee Pfeiffer. The two are obviously good friends (both being professors at NYU) and the commentary is very academic in tone, but still engaging. They begin by framing the movie in the context of the Cold War. Other key points in the commentary include discussions on the symbolism in the movie and standards of the spy genre. They go on to discuss how "The Quiller Memorandum" fits in perfectly with a rash of espionage movies of the mid- to late-sixties. At that time a series of "anti-Bond" movies were being released from the Harry Palmer series through to "Quiller." They featured a reluctant, cynical hero with even more reluctant, cynical bosses. This allowed these movies to capitalize on the 007 phenomenon, but with a more realistic view of the world.
An interesting collectible booklet accompanies the DVD, which is actually quite in-depth. It includes discussion on the development of the story; the adaptation by acclaimed Harold Pinter, the tremendous cast, the help afforded the production during its German shoot and how the villains were changed from Neo-Nazis to communists when the feature was released in Germany.
Both "Quiller" and "The Chairman" (also being released by Fox on Nov. 7) contains trailers for several other movies, of varying quality. The trailers for "The Quiller Memorandum" for example include not just the one for the feature, but also for "Our Man Flint," "In Like Flint," "The Chairman," "Deadfall," "The Magus" and "Peeper." As might be expected however the trailers do show their age, and not always gracefully."
A satisfyingly cynical spy thriller with George Segal, Alec
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 12/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If your idea of an exciting spy thriller involves boobs, blondes and exploding baguettes, then The Quiller Memorandum is probably not for you. With a screenplay by Harold Pinter and careful direction by Michael Anderson, the movie is more a violent-edged tale of probable, cynical betrayal by everyone we meet, with the main character, Quiller (George Segal), squeezed by those he works for, those he works against and even by the delectable German teacher, Inge Lendt (Senta Berger) he meets.

Quiller has arrived in Berlin for an assignment under the control of Pol (Alec Guinness). He is to infiltrate and locate the headquarters of a neo-Nazi organization headed by Oktober (Max Von Sydow). And, by the way, Pol tells Quiller, the two men who had the assignment before you were both killed. It's not long before Quiller realizes, as he's captured, drugged and questioned by Oktober, that Oktober's organization is just as interested in locating and wiping out Pol's group. Quiller managers to escape, but was it too easily done? Pol points out to Quiller that he's now a piece between two players who cannot see each other. Only Quiller can see them. If he gets too close to one player, the other player will follow him and know how to take action. Both Pol and Oktober, each in his own way, would be perfectly content to sacrifice one agent in order to catch the bigger game. Quiller is on his own. He's crafty, careful and resourceful. He doesn't carry a gun. The one thing he has going for him is that he knows he dare not take anything at face value. The resolution may see the bad guys finally taken...but not all of the bad guys. The Quiller Memorandum, while exciting in its own way, has a distinctly bittersweet air to it. The film doesn't leave you with world-weary angst, just the knowledge that if you want to trust anyone you'd better find another line of work.

I have no idea how many writers who wrote popular screenplays went on to become Nobel laureates, but at least one did. Harold Pinter, who won the Nobel for literature in 2005, brings some of the supposedly enigmatic Pinter style to the movie. There are stretches of dialogue that may make you wonder what on earth the point is, but then you realize the point is to let you think about what these people are up to and what they are really like. The scene in a sports stadium when Quiller first meets Pol is quite funny because it seems so irrelevant. Guinness and Segal play it straight, which makes it even better. But in between the mannered irrelevancies of Pol's observations about Nazi rallies, acoustics, how hungry he is and how good one of his sandwiches looks, we begin to think about how ruthless a man Pol probably is. Pinter uses the same approach with Max Von Sydow's gentlemanly questioning of a tied-up Segal. While John Barry's music score is, to me, often too Sixtyishly obvious, the quiet, thoughtful theme he uses under the credits gives fair warning that this is not going to be a rock 'em, sock 'em spy thriller. All the actors do fine jobs, including George Sanders and Robert Flemyng as two London spy mandarins at their club, who are as much concerned about the quality of the pheasant Flemyng is having for lunch as they are about the situation in Berlin.

I suspect that many people will be intrigued by the film, but that others will find it slow, too cynical or too complicated. Give the movie a chance; even cynicism at times can warm an empty heart. The DVD transfer looks just fine to me. There is a printed insert in the case which gives background on the film. The only extra is a commentary by Eddie Friedfeld and Len Pfeiffer, identified as film historians. I didn't take the time to listen to it."
irmita | usa | 09/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I recently viewed this film when it was broadcast on television, and I must say that it was one of the best movies I've seen in a while. Part of the spy genre, Quiller travels to Berlin to investigate the resurgence of a group of Nazis and it is necessary for him to uncover where their base is located. As with any spy thriller, it is difficult at times to differentiate between a supposed friend and and an enemy. One keeps wondering if Quiller is indeed placing his trust on the right people, particularly those who claim to be on his side. Quiller is a spy who doesn't carry a gun, noting that he is less likely to be killed if he is not armed. Despite his intelligence and wit, he still gets caught in precarious situations. Impeccable acting accompanied by astute dialogue make this a compelling piece to watch over and over again."