Eye of the Needle Reviews
The crux of the plot is that Sutherland is a German spy who uncovered the Anglo-American scheme to keep General Patton up north in a fake generalship, something the Germans never thought possible since he was a respected opponent of theirs since his success against them in the Africa campaign and into Italy.
But now here comes the spy with proof that can blow the lid off the hoax that the Allies have hatched for the D-Day invasion.
Unfortunately, our spy stumbles on an island with a lighthouse and radio (very important to the plot) plus a husband and wife. The husband is a crippled RAF flier who uncovers the spy's true intents and almost succeeds in killing him... but that doesn't work and its up to the woman who has a child and wants sex worse than anything.... until she too discovers everyone, including her husband, is ending up dead.
The light goes on in the mind our little lady of adultery. Seeing everyone around her dead, she figures her newfound "lover" is nothing but a snake in the grass.
A thriller to the very end, watch this on a rainy night if possible, as rain is everywhere in the plot. I had to dry out my clothes more than once just watching this one.
Diabolical David Sutherland is at his best in this war flick, very well shot, acted and directed. The bed scenes are a bit tame for our times, but no doubt were risque for the eighties. By the way, I could predict the woman would get into bed with Sutherland since her hubby had no use of his legs. I use mine all the time to great effect.
Ian Bannen co-stars as Percy Godliman as a leading military role trying to stop the talented and illusive Faber. Not unlike Scotland Yard their efforts more the most part almost lend a feel of "Keystone Cops" to the Brits.
[more review to follow)
It is about a German spy, Die Naadel, who dropped out of sight in Germany in 1938 and now inhabits a series of drab bed-sitting-rooms in England while he spies on the British war effort. He is known as the Needle because of his signature means of dispatch. He kills with an exceptional absence of feeling. As played by Sutherland with a rather stand-offish, cool, and even critical manner, the Needle is a man no one knows. We are given inklings to account for his rationale: He was raised by parents who did not love him, he was shipped off to boarding schools, he spent parts of his childhood in America, where he learned English. None of the account altogether clears up his viciousness, but then I suppose it is no more than a secret agent's business to be vicious. Perhaps it's no one's fault someone is ruthless.
Ken Follett's deftly communicated thread is by inches both undercover operations and mystery. The Needle unravels a hoax to evade the Germans. His task is to be the very one to confront Die Fuhrer with the information of the actual Allied invasion plans. This he means to do with every tissue of his being, and yet we never get the sense that this man is a nationalist. He is more of an existentially decisive, unbending envoy. In his endeavors to convene with a Nazi submarine, he's shipwrecked on a remote island populated merely by a lighthouse keeper and a goat-farming family comprised of a woman played by the emotionally receptive Kate Nelligan, her legless husband and their son.
The last third of the movie turns into a blood-spattered drama in which the action is more pertinent than the characterization. But before that, he poses as just a shipwrecked seafarer. And Nelligan, her appearance fittingly preceded by her co-star being adrift at sea, is disheartened by her husband's drunkenness and unwillingness to love, and becomes endeared to the stranger. Does he become enamored of her? We can never be certain, though he tells her things he has told to no one else.
It is compelling to build a plot like this at a studious tread, rather than rushing head on through it. It gives us time to weigh the character of the Needle, and to contemplate his exceptionally scant, mysterious allusions to what he feels versus what he thinks. Instead of an unambiguously good and evil clash, despite the melodrama of the last act, we have by then learned things about him that he may not even know about himself, and that is why the film's final scene is so much more intricate than it appears.