The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth tolls in Labor Day Weekend with Power, Politics, and Paranoia: The Art of Espionage Film Festival. Don’t expect to see James Bond here, though you will spot a pre-Bond Daniel Craig as part of the team in Steven Spielberg’s Munich. No, the movies here give you the unglamorous, grubby, morally murky world of spycraft during the Cold War years.
The festival begins with Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent, a film overshadowed by his Rebecca in the same year that contains a shocking political assassination and a scene-stealing turn by George Sanders as a spy named ffolliott (that’s not a typo). The actor known for playing effete, sarcastic villains is cast against type here as a tough hero, performing a stunt fall from a third-story window, with Hitchcock filming it in a smooth single take so we know it’s really Sanders doing it.
Some comic entries are here, too, with the French farce The Tall Blond Man With One Black Shoe and the Cuban-shot Our Man in Havana, a reuniting of director Carol Reed with screenwriter Graham Greene, though markedly less successful than their The Third Man. The black-and-white John le Carré adaptation The Spy Who Came in From the Cold features an atypically restrained lead performance from Richard Burton, but the best acting comes from Ulrich Mühe as an East German surveillance tech in The Lives of Others, a turn that’s even more moving if you know that the actor was dying of stomach cancer during the filming of the Oscar-winning 2007 movie and, despite excruciating pain, gave a layered performance as a man getting caught up in the people he’s spying on.
[box_info]Power, Politics, and Paranoia: The Art of Espionage Film Festival runs Thu-Sun at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, 3200 Darnell St, FW. Tickets are $6-9. Call 817-738-9215.[/box_info]