Tag Archives: phillip noyce

The CIA and Hollywood episode 15 Salt

Rounding off this second season we take a look at SALT, the 2010 action thriller starring Angelina Jolie as a CIA officer accused of being a Russian sleeper agent. We chart the development of the film, from its origins as an attempt to recreate the Bourne franchise, through Amy Pascal and Jolie’s conversations about making a female-led spy thriller. SALT is one of the less well known CIA-assisted productions, but along with technical advice from former CIA officer Melissa Boyle Mahle the producers also consulted with the CIA themselves in a video conference. The producers also employed Kurt Wimmer, one of the screenwriters from The Recruit. There is also a very weird story involving one of the extras in the opening sequence in North Korea.
We analyse the mystery of Evelyn Salt’s underwear and then the conversation hones in on Russia, who in 2010 were not on the news agenda, and how this movie predicted the rise of the ‘new Cold War’ that is commonplace in most current spy films and TV shows. The whole notion of a sleeper agent Russian spy ring was risible at the time but before long this exact story hit the news in a big way. We touch on the transhuman disguise that Jolie employs in the film and how this relates both to Argo and to Mission: Impossible, two other CIA-assisted movies. We round off looking back on season 2 of The CIA and Hollywood and suggest a possibility for doing season 3 in a different way.

Download The CIA and Hollywood ep 15

Show notes:

SALT (movie)

The Ultimate Action Hero – Salt (Making Of #1)

Spy Disguise: The Looks of Evelyn Salt (Making Of #2)

SALT production notes

Thomas J. Ridge and Melissa Boyle Mahle on Salt

The SALT talks

Pearse with SALT poster

Advertisements

The CIA and Hollywood episode 8 The Quiet American

In this first episode of the new season Pearse and I discuss the 1958 spy drama The Quiet American, adapted from the novel by Graham Greene.  We focus in on the role of Air Force and CIA officer Ed Lansdale’s relationship with the film-maker Joseph Mankiewicz, and how the CIA were involved in assisting Mankiewicz the first major American movie to be filmed in Vietnam.  Mankiewicz met Lansdale in Vietnam while doing research for the movie and, apparently unaware that Lansdale is one of the inspirations for the Pyle character in the original book, befriended him.  Lansdale later reviewed the script and wrote to Mankiewicz encouraging the changes he had made to the storyline and characters.

Another angle is Graham Greene’s transition from an MI6 agent in World War 2 to an anti-establishment author who was spied by the FBI for supposed Communist affiliations.  We look at how his original novel of The Quiet American was an excellent critique of post-WW2 American imperialism, secret warfare and so-called ‘humanitarian interventions’, which was butchered in the Hollywood version.  In particular the character of Pyle is turned from a bookish, virginal ‘war nerd’ into the charming all-American version played by real-life war hero Audie Murphy.  Likewise, while the original book has Fowler’s worst suspicions about Pyle being proven right (Pyle is sponsoring terrorism), the film changes this so Fowler is fooled by the Communists into betraying Pyle.

We round off this episode by briefly discussing the far superior (and not state-sponsored) 2002 film version directed by Philip Noyce and starring Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser.  This version is not only better written, acted and directed but is also, crucially, a faithful adaptation of the original book.

Download The CIA and Hollywood ep 8

Vimeo Version

 

Show Notes:

The Quiet American (book)

The Quiet American (1958 film)

The Quiet American (2002 film)

Edward Lansdale’s Cold War by Jonathan Nashel

Lansdale’s letter to Mankiewicz

Edward Lansdale

Operation Northwoods document collection

Graham Greene’s FBI File

The Dangerous Edge – Graham Greene documentary

Michael Redgrave MI5 file

%d bloggers like this: