Film / The Russia House

"You have to think like a hero merely to behave like a decent human being."

It's 1988, and the Cold War is coming to an end.

MI6 has come into possession of several Russian manuscripts detailing the highest level Soviet military research. The scientist and author of the manuscripts however, will only deal through a very unlikely intermediary. Barney Blair is a sometimes publisher, full time dreamer and drunk. Who is drawn into the world of espionage in order to help Katya Orlov, the beautiful former girlfriend of the author.

As the battle lines are drawn for a showdown between the CIA, MI6 and their KGB rivals. Barney must make a choice: his love for Katya or the demands of his country.

A 1989 spy novel by John le Carré, The Russia House was made into a 1990 film adaptation, directed by Fred Schepisi and featuring a cast including Sean Connery, Michelle Pfeiffer, Roy Scheider, James Fox, and John Mahoney.

Contains examples of:

  • The Great Politics Messup: Although written and set before the end, several characters allude and worry over the future if the cold war comes to an end. As one character puts it:
    " How the fuck do you peddle an arms race when the only asshole you've got to race against is yourself!?"
  • Dawson Casting: In the book Barley is in his mid-forties at most. Connery was fifty nine when the film was made.
  • Happily Ever After: For Niki Landau anyway. For smuggling out the files, he gets £100,000 from MI6 and opens up a very successful business with it. He remains happily unaware of all the espionage that follows.
  • Love Confession: Barley's "Grown-up love" speech. It was even used in the trailer.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again: Or rather, carry on as if he is still in the game.
  • May–December Romance: Imposed on Barley and Katya in the film, as a result of Dawson Casting with Connery.
  • Not So Different: The crux of the story is that ordinary people of the USSR and the West are remarkable similar. The KGB are up to the same tricks as MI6 and the CIA.
  • Paper Tiger: The manuscripts state the entire Soviet weapons programme is in a state of disarray. Truth in Television by 1990.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Jerry Goldsmith's main theme for the movie was originally written for Wall Street before he left the project due to Creative Differences (he didn't score that movie); he reused it in his score for Alien Nation but the music was thrown out. The third time was the charm.