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Film / Le Silencieux

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Le Silencieux (The Silent One) is a 1973 French thriller film directed by Claude Pinoteau and starring Lino Ventura.

In London, the M.I.5 kidnaps Anton Haliakov, a Soviet scientist. Actually, Anton Haliakov is Clément Tibère, a Frenchman, who was abducted by the Russians sixteen years ago. He is forced to denounce British spies who work for the K.G.B., then he is released by the M.I.5, but the K.G.B. chases after him, looking for revenge.


Le Silencieux provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: The agents of the M.I.5 are very polite with Clément Tibère and they treat him nicely (they offer cigars and whisky), but they threaten to kill him if he does not denounce the British spies who work for the K.G.B.
  • As You Know: After the abduction of Tibère by the M.I.5, Mr Howard tells Tibère his backstory, among other things his abduction by the K.G.B. sixteen years ago.
  • Can't Kill You, Still Need You: In the end, the K.G.B. does not kill Clément Tibère, because they intend to exchange him against a Soviet spy.
  • Cyanide Pill: Mr Jarvis bites a pill hidden in a cigarette when he is arrested after being denounced as a spy by Clément Tibère.
  • Dead Foot Leadfoot: When a agent of the D.S.T. drives Clément Tibère to the D.S.T. offices, he is shot dead by the K.G.B. and Tibère has to take control of the car.
  • Death Faked for You:
    • The M.I.5 tries to make the K.G.B. believe Clément Tibère is dead after kidnapping him. At the hospital mortuary, his body is turned into a realistic-seeming corpse.
    • Sixteen years ago, the K.G.B. made the authorities believe Clément Tibère was dead after kidnapping him. It even provided a disfigured corpse.
  • Deep Cover Agent: Mrs Hardy and Mr Jarvis who are arrested after Tibère denounces them. The agents denounced subsequently by Mrs Hardy are also deep cover agents (among them, there is a priest and a Quintessential British Gentleman who wears a derby).
  • Defector from Commie Land: Justified. Clément Tibère did not want to defect (because he knew the K.G.B. would chase him), but he is forced to defect by the M.I.5, which set up a complex plan to abduct him under the nose his minders. Tibère denounces several British spies who work for the K.G.B.
  • Dirty Communists: Clément Tibère is chased by the K.G.B.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Big Ben can be seen when the agents of the M.I.5 go to the airport with Tibère.
  • Faux Death: The M.I.5 turns Clément Tibère into a realistic-seeming corpse at the hospital mortuary to make the K.G.B. believe he is dead.
  • Flashback: There is one during the exposition of Tibère's backstory, to show how he was abducted sixteen years ago.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Clément Tibère steals several cars to escape from the K.G.B.
  • Implacable Man: Nothing can stop the men of the K.G.B. from chasing Clément Tibère. They will always find his track.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Tibère tells his ex-wife, who has married someone else, to keep on with her new life. He does not want to interfere in it.
  • Kidnapped Scientist: Clément Tibère was abducted by the Russians sixteen years ago because he was a talented nuclear physicist.
  • Military Maverick: Tibère was one during WWII. He received the George Cross because of the success of an unauthorized mission.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: The M.I.5 offers to release Clément Tibère if he denounces British spies who work for the K.G.B. If he does not accept, he will be killed.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The M.I.5 does not do much to protect Clément Tibère: he just receives some money, a gun and a new identity.
    • Subverted with the D.S.T. Its agents want to protect Tibère, but they are not very efficient at first: the first agent who wants to help gets killed. Later, Tibère is advised to go to the D.S.T. office in Paris, but he is attacked by the K.G.B. in the train and he has to flee. However, in the end, the D.S.T. arrests a Russian spy and exchange him against Tibère.
  • Prisoner Exchange: In the end, Clément Tibère is exchanged against a Soviet spy.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: The scientists who work for the Soviet Union cannot resign. After being abducted by the M.I.5, Tibère says he wants to go back to USSR, because he knows there is no other safe solution for him. He details the case of another scientist who escaped and was killed by the K.G.B.
  • Spy Fiction: Stale Beer Flavored. Clément Tibère is abducted by the M.I.5, then chased by the K.G.B. He gets some help from the D.S.T. K.G.B. is implacable and ruthless. M.I.5 threatens to kill Tibère if he does not denounce British spies who work for the K.G.B. There is no glamour in any of the depicted secret services.
  • Starting a New Life:
    • Clément Tibère has started a new life under a new name against his will in the USSR. He does not want to return to the West, because he knows the K.G.B. would chase him.
    • Subverted. After denouncing the Brits who work for the the K.G.B., Tibère is given a new identity by the M.I.5, but instead of starting a new life elsewhere, he returns to his home country, France, because he knows K.G.B. will find him anywhere on earth, so he prefers dying in France.
  • Stern Chase: Clément Tibère is chased by the K.G.B. and must constantly flee.
  • Train Escape:
    • When he is going back to Paris, Clément Tibère jumps from a train and crosses a track just ahead of another train. His pursuers cannot follow him (at least not immediately).
    • Subverted when Clément Tibère is going to Geneva. He arrives just to late to cross the tracks and he must find another trick to escape from his pursuers.
  • Workplace-Acquired Abilities: When Howard tells Tibère's life, he said that, during the war, Tibère worked in the British special forces. This explains how he is able to escape from the K.G.B. during the rest of film.


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