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.
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)