In June, when the FBI arrested 10 Russian spies who had been living and working in the U.S. , it brought to mind books and movies that were based on this very plot. These two films were filmed near the end of the Cold War – an era that seems very distant now.
No Way Out (based on the book, The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing) starred Kevin Costner as a heroic Navy commander. In a labyrinthine plot of deceit and betrayal, Tom Farrell, as played by Costner, is forced by the Secretary of Defense (Gene Hackman) to search for a KGB mole. The Secretary begins the investigation to distract everyone from an affair and accidental murder, but, it turns out, there is a surprising twist in this extremely complicated plot.
Sleepers was a 4-part TV series in 1991 about two KGB agents who had been in England for 25 years. They were to establish themselves as native British citizens who would, theoretically, be called to action someday. However, as the Soviet Union collapsed, they were forgotten. The two men, by this time, are well established and are not anxious to disrupt their English jobs and lifestyle. One is a factory worker with a wife and young children, the other is a playboy and investment banker. Their accidental discovery is played out as a comedy, but there is real emotion in their dilemma.
What is truly fascinating is the long-forgotten replica of English kitchen, living room, etc. where the spies had learned to be British. This gives insight into what it means to be British and Russian (in the ’60’s and the ’90’s).