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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful
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.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given URL (livingasseniors dot blogspot dot com). Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2000
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.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2000
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.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon September 11, 2005
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.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2000
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 aternative 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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 1999
Here's hoping electronic word-of-mouth earns EYE OF THE NEEDLE deserved recognition as a superb espionage thriller. Donald Sutherland masters his role as a World War II German spy who manipulates women in order to achieve his mission. The excitement of watching Sutherland out-thinking the enemy makes you realize just how many purported thrillers substitute car chases, fist fights and explosions for a good plot. See EYE OF THE NEEDLE! (Donald Sutherland, you are the dirtiest, rottenest scoundrel.)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1981's "Eye of the Needle," a canny World War II spy drama, is another of the good romantic thrillers made in the 80's. It's based on a novel by Ken Follett, with screenplay by Stanley Mann. It stars the Canadians Kate Nelligan and Donald Sutherland, at the head of an excellent British cast; and it boasts a stunning musical score by Miklos Rosza, his last, that undoubtedly contributes to the film's moods. It was made on location in London and Scotland, features quite beautiful cinematography by Alan Hulme, and was ably directed by Richard Marquand.

The film opens at a critical point in the ongoing war. It deals with the so-called "Henry Faber," important German spy dubbed "The Needle" at home for his favorite way of despatching people, by stiletto (Sutherland). We find him in place in a railway yard, a useful place for him to be, until Hitler personally assigns him to double check the impending Allied plans to invade mainland Europe. This assignment will bring him eventually to isolated Storm Island, off Scotland's coast, where he will meet David, legless former air pilot (Christopher Cazenove), and his unhappy wife Lucy (Nelligan). It quickly becomes a romantic triangle. The affair between Sutherland and Nelligan is a mature, passionate, sexy one: the film has placed Sutherland's age at 40, and Nelligan has been given a son.

Sutherland gives a creepily forceful performance as The Needle, although his accent sometimes wavers. Nelligan gives one of her trademark big, intense performances: it seems to me she was once tipped as Hollywood's next big female star, and it never happened, for reasons unknown to me. But she really carries this picture. Cazenove is surprisingly good as the embittered former flyboy. Ian Banner turns in his usual fine performance as chief spy sweeper. Rupert Fraser makes the most of his one scene as Muller. And, in a very small part at the end, we see Bill Nighy, who has suddenly, recently, become a star at an age when a lot of burnt-out stars are selling real estate.

When you think of it though, The Needle and Lucy must inevitably clash; just the two of them on the tiny island. Mind you, patriotism's all very well, but I consider this film more a good illustration of the age-old fact that women are more fixed in place than are men. The Needle, as a spy, is, by definition, a long way from home. But Lucy owns a farm, and has a son who will someday expect to inherit. She doesn't have the option of, say, running off to Germany with Faber. In fact, this exact same situation underlies the Harrison Ford-Kelly McGillis relationship in the powerful romantic thriller "Witness," also from the 80's.

So, as the knockout ending unspools, The Needle tells Lucy, "The War has come down to the two of us... I did what I had to do, it cannot be undone. I'm sorry." But if you enjoy a rich romantic suspense movie, you won't be.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2002
The Allies are preparing for the invasion of Normandy and are trying to produce false intelligence to confuse the Nazis. A spy, living in England, has discovered the falsehood and is trying to contact Hitler to let him know. In his attempt to escape to Germany, he becomes shipwrecked on a small island. There, he will meet a frustrated housewife.
Set in WWII Britain, the movie sets a good pace for the viewer to follow. We will follow The Needle, Donald Sutherland, as he escapes numerous traps set for him as he tries to smuggle secret photos out of England. He will find himself on an island with a drunken lighthouse keeper, a crippled pilot (former), and the pilot's wife and son. Both the wife and The Needle are isolated; she on the island with a less than affectionate husband, and The Needle, a lone spy in enemy territory. They feel this connection, but must keep true to their allegiances.
This is a good movie, and I recommend watching it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Most spy stories get dated rather quickly as old antagonists become commercial partners and old issues become just so much former silliness. That Eye Of The Needle, clearly a spy story on the surface, has lasted longer than most is attributable to a number of factors, paramount among them being it is much more than a spy story.

I think of it as a 'study in reluctance'. Faber (Sutherland) clearly does not want to have to kill people as he goes about his assigned spying duties, but darn it they keep putting his mission in jeopardy and he just has to... Similarly, Lucy (Nelligan) doesn't really want to cheat on her paraplegic and surly husband (Cazenove), but Faber is so attentive; nor, when she learns the truth of his life does she want to do what must be done, but...

In lesser hands this story could turn to mush. But with Ken Follett's best-selling novel as a base, Richard Marquand's deft direction, and phenomenally excellent casting in not only the two starring roles, but across the board, it's one 'spy story' that holds up well. Of course, I've only watched it maybe two dozen times so far...perhaps it will get boring after the fourth or fifth dozen viewings. Probably not though. This is a classic movie I highly recommend to anyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Donald Sutherland has tended to be one of our finest actors, overlooked and dismissed by many critics. Sure, he's done some floppers (e.g. Virus), but in this movie he shows why he's such a riveting performer. He plays the Needle, a cold, psychotic killer, who is a German spy and holds the key to knowledge of the D-Day invasion. He ends up shipwrecked on a lonely island, inhabited only by a reclusive cripple and his devoted, if lonely, wife. Kate Nelligan (so good in "Dracula" with Frank Langella) is perfect as Lucy, the woman whose need for love leads to an affair with the Needle. Christopher Cazenove turns in a good performance as her husband, whose bitterness over his auto accident, has turned him into an uncaring, selfish man. Director Richard Marquand keeps the movie moving at a leisurely pace, but packs some powerful suspense scenes; the score by Miklos Roza is admirable, and the scenery is lush and beautiful. I havent' read Ken Follett's novel, but this is a great movie and hopefully did it justice.
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