"A" or "F" Sutherland In One of His "A" Films
carol irvin | United States | 05/26/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hubby and I long ago nicknamed Donald Sutherland "A or F Sutherland." This is because his movies tend to be either "A"s or "F"s with nothing inbetween. "Eye Of The Needle" is one of his very best "A" films. It is based on the equally superb novel of the same name. It is rare when a novel and its film version are equal in excellence but this is one of those rare happenings. Sutherland plays a German spy, called "The Needle," stationed in England during WWII. He uncovers the real destination of the planned Allied D-Day invasion. In trying to get this information to his country and escape on a German submarine, he ends up stranded on an island with Kate Nelligan and her bitter and crippled husband. This is unfortunate for the Needle. For he finds himself emotionally captivated, as well as sexually, with Nelligan. Although he has always been able to ruthlessly kill anyone who stood in his mission's way before, Nelligan's fierce courage handicaps him. A love story as well as a war-espionage story, it is an exhilirating experience from start to finish. See it."
Birthe Jrgensen | Odense, Denmark | 10/01/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sutherland and Nelligan are brilliant, in this old favorite of mine. It's the kind of classic spy movie you never get tired of. However, I think you probably need to be familiar with the movie already, in order to really appreciate it. -By that I mean, its pace might actually be a little too slow for someone watching it now for the first time. But this of course happens to be one of the many good things about it; it takes the time it needs to tell the story, establish the mood and the cold persona of the ruthless "Needle". (It's quite sad to think just how much most certainly would've been considered a waste of time, and ended up on the cutting-room floor if made today.) The picture on the DVD is quite good and sharp most of the time, especially the outdoor-scenes at daytime. By the way, there's an alternative ending of the movie in existence (with cop Bannen arriving by helicopter), and it would've been nice if MGM had included it as an extra bonus treat. Still, this simple tale is a true classic and well-worth getting."
One of the Greatest Spy Movies of All Times
J. GENIO | Earth | 09/06/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the early days of WWII, a notorious German Spy, The Needle (Donald Sutherland) travels abroad and collects vital information for the wehrmacht. In 1944, the tide is turned; and Germany now finds itself in a defensive posture. The Germans are convinced that the allies are planning an invasion of France. -- but where? The Needle uncovers critical information to indicate that the Allies are planning an invasion of Normady. Unfortunately for the Needle and Germany, on his way to delivering this vital information, he gets stranded on a remote island. At this point in the film, director Richard Marquand shows his cunning and artistic talents at convincingly weaving a supberb spy thriller and a romance movie together as one. The Needle has to deliver his critical information to Germany. However, he cannot do so while stranded on the island. To complicate matters, the Needle now has romatic interests which causes him to delay his mission. But, at the same time, causes The Needle great anxiety because he knows he has to relay his information to Germany. The Needle knows that the fate of Germany rests in his hands. Sutherland plays the part of a notorious, ruthless, and cunning German spy to absolute perfection. You also see Sutherland struggle with himself to complete his mission, and save Germany. Kate Nelligan magnificently plays the role of a woman torn between "romance" and "duty to her country." This is not your typical James Bond or Matt Helm flicks with all the well-shaped, beautiful women; fancy gadgets, and explosive action. Instead, Eye of the Needle is a good, old fashioned (dare I say it!) "Hitchcockian" suspense thriller that will keep you at the edge of your seats. This is an excellent movie. . . well worth watching more than once. This film rates more than a five. . . Its a perfect 10."
A First-Rate Espionage Film With A Complex Love Story
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 09/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Eye of the Needle is part-espionage, part psychological thriller, part repressed love story. It's as gloomy as a rainy day. The film also is exciting, well acted and engrossing. Please note: elements of the plot are discussed below. Henry Faber (Donald Sutherland) is a ruthless, extremely competent German spy in England during WWII masquerading as an Englishman. When threatened, he's as quick to kill his landlady who discovers him at a clandestine radio as he is a fellow spy who might be captured. His preferred method is a quick, deep stiletto thrust to the heart.
Faber discovers that Patton's Third Army is a sham and that the invasion of Europe will take place at Normandy, not the Pas de Calais. Before he can transmit the information, he's shipwrecked on isolated Storm Island off the coast of Scotland. The only inhabitants are David (Christopher Cazenove), a former fighter pilot who lost the use of his legs on the day of his marriage four years ago, his wife, Lucy (Kate Nelligan), their four-year-old son, Joe, and Tom, an elderly man, often drunk, who looks after the lighthouse and takes care of the couple's sheep. David is deeply embittered, full of self-pity and suspicious. He's either unable or unwilling to be intimate with his wife. Lucy is loyal, but so lonely for affection she is drawn to the ship-wrecked, charming man in her midst. In some strange way, Faber also is drawn to Lucy...perhaps not by love, exactly, but toward a kind of closeness he has never permitted himself before.
One night, when David has taken a sleeping pill and gone to bed, Faber and Lucy are talking in front of the fire. Faber tells Lucy that her little boy is lucky to be so obviously loved. "I'm his mother," Lucy says with a smile, "and parents love their children." "No, no, not all," Faber says. "Some parents use their children...set goals for them...goals they weren't able to attain in their lives. Hardly love, do you think?" They make love that night. Later, in his need to contact a German submarine which will take him back to Germany with the invasion information, Faber will kill her husband, kill Tom, threaten Lucy...and when it would have been easy to kill Lucy, choose not to. "The war has come down to the two of us," he tells her. "I did what I had to do. It can't be undone. I'm sorry." The ending is, I suppose, inevitable.
The first half of Eye of the Needle is an exciting espionage story. We learn who the Needle is, how he works, how resourceful and how deadly he can be. The second half of the movie takes place on Storm Island. Slowly we see this strange relationship between two needy people evolve, one of whom, the Needle, has shown himself to be coldly ruthless. At the same time, we're drawn to Lucy as she realizes that the man she has given herself to has killed her husband and may be a threat to her son and herself. The climax of the movie, a bloody showdown in the decrepit lighthouse and then on the wet, stoney beach where Faber has discovered a small row boat he can use to get to the waiting sub, is harrowing. It's melodramatic and it packs a punch.
Donald Sutherland and Kate Nelligan are both, in my opinion, superb actors, and they were never better than in this movie. The DVD picture is excellent. There are no extras."