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Our Man in Havana (1960)

Alec Guinness , Maureen O'Hara , Carol Reed  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Alec Guinness, Maureen O'Hara, Burl Ives, Ernie Kovacs, Noel Coward
  • Directors: Carol Reed
  • Writers: Graham Greene
  • Producers: Carol Reed, Raymond Anzarut
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 3, 2009
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001LMAK6A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,857 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Our Man in Havana" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Carol Reed's 1960 adaptation of Graham Greene's satiric Cold War novel (Greene also wrote the screenplay) is simultaneously funny and scary, a microcosm of profiteering under the shadow of nuclear war and a grim comedy about the lengths to which men will go to uphold a useful ruse. Alec Guinness plays Jim Wormold, a low-key, English expatriate and vacuum cleaner salesman living in pre-revolutionary Havana, Cuba, with his daughter, Milly (Jo Morrow). Short on funds, Wormold accepts an offer from a British spy recruiter (Noel Coward) to keep a clandestine eye on Cuban activities, a job for which Wormold has no experience. Anxious to keep the home office happy, Wormold sends schematics of vacuum cleaners he declares are blueprints of secret weapons, and creates fictional agents who appear to send in field reports suggesting something is amiss on the island. Espionage head "C" (Ralph Richardson) is pleased with Wormold's progress, but when the former sends out a beautiful handler (Maureen O'Hara) and a possible assassin turns up at a sales convention, Our Man's faux hero has to think fast to keep up his charade--and stay alive. Ernie Kovacs is excellent as a corrupt police chief trying to win Milly's heart by appealing to her father, and Burl Ives has never been better than as a German expat with a mysterious background. Reed has a superb grasp of the tone and pacing of this spy comedy, with its surges of genuine darkness--he did, after all, give the world the much-less-funny The Third Man. --Tom Keogh




Stills from Our Man in Havana (Click for larger image)






Product Description

Recruited by the British Secret Service, vacuum cleaner salesman Jim Wormold (Alec Guinness) becomes an unlikely agent in Cuba. To avoid working while cashing the checks, Wormold spins a web of lies about foreign government secrets. When the locals coppers decode his fake messages, all hell breaks loose in Havana and Wormold must become the spy he dreads in order to survive his own swindle. Oscar-winning screen legend Alec Guinness (1957, Best Actor, The Bridge on the River Kwai) stars with Burl Ives and Maureen O'Hara in this classic film noir directed by Carol Reed and penned by Graham Greene.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow-building, surprisingly subtle comedy of spying February 6, 2002
Sir Carol Reed's 1960 film of Graham Greene's "Our Man in Havana" gets off to a slow start. The expatriate British widower Jim Wormold (Alec Guinness) is having difficulty making enough money to support the expensive tastes of his cherished teenaged daughter Milly (Jo Morrow), who has caught the idea of a Batista torturer and equestrian, Capt. Segura (Ernie Kovacs). The British spymaster for the Caribbean (Noël Coward) insists that Wormold become a British secret agent, and Wormold decides to take the money and when pressed for results, concocts nonsense "intelligence."
His ludicrous inventions, including a military installation he invents out of vacuum cleaner parts, are taken very seriously. As in Greene's "The Third Man" (also filmed by Reed) and "The Quiet American" (filmed by Joseph Mankiewicz), ignorance ("innocence") proves to be extremely dangerous to others. This film is not as great as those other two, but has a very strong cast (including Burl Ives as a German doctor, Maureen O'Hara as a plucky M16 professional sent to assist Wormold, and Ralph Richardson as the agency head back in London) and splendid black-and-white cinematography of Havana almost as good as that of Vienna and Hanoi in the other two films. The camerawork is by Oswald Morris, John Huston's cinematographer on another, broader 1950s spy spoof (Beat the Devil) and other films (including the 1952 Moulin Rouge, Moby Dick, The Roots of Heaven, The Man who Would be King, and Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison) plus Kubrick's "Lolita" and Reed's "Oliver!"
Guinness (who had a career in spying movies ahead of him!) delivers a subtle performance. More unexpectedly, so does Ernie Kovacs, who was generally a very broad and antic comic.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Our Man in Havana is an excellent, sly black comedy with a screenplay by Graham Greene and directed by Carol Reed. James Wormold (Alec Guinness) is a vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana. He's getting by but needs more money to take care of his teen-aged daughter. He's recruited as a spy for Britain by Noel Coward. He doesn't really know what's wanted, but he can use the money. Since he doesn't know anything of value, he begins making up stories and inventing plans, and mentioning the names of people supposedly involved. The names, of course, are just names he picked at random. His masterpiece is his "discovery" of a giant military complex, the plans of which he gets to his controller (Coward), who sends them on to London. The plans are actually the diagrams of one of his vacuum cleaners. This first part of the movie is a funny, sharp-edged parody of British pomposity and the thick headedness of "intelligence."

But then people begin to die.

It seems there may be more than British spies in Havana, spies who also believe the plans are genuine, and who are a lot more ruthless than the British. The second half of the film is darker, less funny and much more sardonic.

The cast is a strange grouping of disparate acting styles, but somehow they all work very well together. In addition to Guinness and Coward, there is Burl Ives, Ernie Kovacs, Maureen O'Hara and Ralph Richardson. Coward is priceless as a mannered, fatuous, obliviously incompetent spy. Kovacs for once is less Kovacs and more the part. He plays the Cuban police's main man in catching spies. He's amusing, and so are his lines. Among them, "There are two classes of people: those who can be tortured and those who can't.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Vintage Guinness March 30, 2004
By JMB1014
Alec Guinness gives a terrifically funny performance as Wormold, a reluctant, middle-aged British resident of Havana who is approached by his country's desperate, and ridiculously credulous, "intelligence service" to do his patriotic duty and become a part-time spy. Wormold is also the lonely father of a nubile daughter and he needs extra money to answer her increasingly expensive wishes. The government will pay well. One day, rather hopelessly and absently, he sketches the interior of a vacuum cleaner he is supposed to be selling at his modest business, pretending his sketch pertains to some dangerous, real-life strategic device. His secret agent employers are elated. They send Wormold money. Unfortunately, they also become desperate for more "intelligence" from the now equally desperate Wormold. As he invents ever more outrageous fictions, the spy masters grow ever more fascinated. Then comes the kicker: Wormold's elaborate fantasies begin to come true. He has created a monster, in effect. The complexities of his imaginary spy world begin to envelope him. The outcome is terrible - and terribly funny. The subtle comic genius of Guinness may be lost on some American audiences, or it may be just your cup of tea. I laughed till I cried. I have never forgotten this movie since I saw it when I was an English major, studying Graham Greene, among others. I eagerly await its issuance in DVD.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Secret Agent January 3, 2009
Format:DVD
A simply wonderful adaptation by Graham Greene of his book about how an unwitting British expatriate who is having difficulty supporting his daughter's expensive habits as a vacuum cleaner salesman in Havana is recruited to become a secret agent for the British government. The movie is intelligent, witty, and timely with great casting and excellent performances. While billed as a tongue-in-cheek comedy, it may not be too far from the truth in shedding light on how governments recruit their spies, obtain secret information, and cover their tracks. The film is excellent - and the book is, too.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Crown Jewel of Movies
A wonderful, witty sendup of the British secret service of the 1950's that we can still appreciate now. Alec Guinness is his usual superb, understated self. Read more
Published 11 days ago by A. B. Lawver
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT CAST MAKES THE FILM BETTER THAN THE BOOK
I am not sure if old Havana, or Burl Ives or Noel Coward steals the film but together with Alec Guiness and Ralph Richardson , this is a superb film well why not as it is directed... Read more
Published 20 days ago by Richard Turnley
5.0 out of 5 stars Our man in Havana
I had read the book as a teenager, in 1961, and loved it, but had forgotten most of the plot after 50 years. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Philip Michael Dwyer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
We returned from visiting Cuba and it was great fun to watch the movie. It has an all-star cast. The places and the cars in the movie are the same as the ones on the island... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Barbara S.
4.0 out of 5 stars Alex Guinness, Burl Ives, Graham Greene
Timeless. Great acting. Old black and white movie retains entertainment value and illustrates how to tell a tale with acting rather than special effects. Read more
Published 2 months ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this movie
I can watch it over and over and enjoy seeing the old stars, the droll British manner, the Cuban surroundings, it doesn't matter that I know how it ends, I still love watching it... Read more
Published 2 months ago by D. Montano
5.0 out of 5 stars Super fun movie, glas it's finally in my collection!
With a cast of Alec Guinness, Burl Ives, Maureen O'Hara and others you have to feel that it's got to be good and you'd be right. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jeffrey R Laurie
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality Raises Its Head High
A classic film because of Guiness's performance with an excellent script and director. The cinematography allows you to feel the place.
Published 3 months ago by Sandman
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Flick
It is good. Just a little short of the book. Alec Guinnes is great as always, Maureen O'Hara lovely, and Burl Ives in a role that your not used to seeing in.
Published 3 months ago by paul belben
5.0 out of 5 stars All star cast
Doesn't get better, brilliant, hilarious, mocking black humor with an all star cast shot on location. A Noel Coward and Graham Green collaboration.
Published 3 months ago by PaulNB
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