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Film / The Catcher Was a Spy

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The Catcher Was a Spy is a 2018 World War II spy thriller and biopic directed by Ben Lewin, starring Paul Rudd, Jeff Bridges, Guy Pearce, Paul Giamatti, and Mark Strong. It was adapted from Nicholas Dawidoff's 1994 nonfiction book of the same name.

Moe Berg (Rudd) is a Major League catcher reaching the end of his playing career. Rather than make the shift from playing to coaching, Berg decides to join the Allied war effort and eventually becomes a spy for the OSS, tasked with determining how close Nazi Germany is to developing an atomic bomb.


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This film provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: The film jumps from Berg's time as an analyst to his work in the field in Europe, glossing over the time he spent building US relations with South American countries.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Berg's rumored bisexuality is touched upon, with his relationship with Estella Huni explicitly shown, an encounter with the male Kawabata implied, and Bill Donovan questioning Berg's orientation before saying he doesn't care.
  • Badass Bookworm: Berg has degrees from Princeton and Columbia and speaks multiple languages. He's also a capable brawler who volunteered to become a spy during World War II.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Because Berg spends his time in the Boston Red Sox clubhouse separate from other players and reading foreign newspapers, a rookie teammate suspects him to be a homosexual and a communist. When the teammate decides to tail Berg to prove his suspicions, Berg gets the drop on the much younger and larger man, beats him senseless, and threatens to break his arm to end his career.
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  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: When crossing over from Italy to Switzerland, Berg reveals that he speaks Italian and knows that his guides were thinking of double-crossing him.
  • Jumped at the Call: Berg preempts the call. Realizing that war with Japan is becoming imminent, he takes it upon himself to sneak around Tokyo and take film footage of the harbor to provide information of Japan's naval capabilities. He uses this footage to make the case that he should join the American intelligence effort/
  • Omniglot: Berg demonstrates his ability to speak multiple languages, stretching from Western European through to the Middle East, fluently. He also pretends to speak Japanese to mess with other baseball players while on a trip to Japan.


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