The Best Spy Movie Ever Isn’t James Bond — It’s This

Matthew Mosley in Collider:

Has anyone exerted as much influence over the spy genre as Ian Fleming? Examples of espionage fiction may have predated his transition from naval officer to novelist by well over a century, but it wasn’t until the appearance of the British Secret Service’s finest asset, James Bond, that it became a cultural phenomenon (a feeling strengthened by the character’s legendary reinvention as one of cinema’s greatest icons from 1962’s Dr. No onwards). The success of the 007 franchise was a watershed moment for the genre, establishing a framework that everything released since has either deliberately aped or purposefully avoided. Seventy years on, the formula has lost none of its appeal… but it has contributed to the false impression of what being a spy is actually like. Of course, Ian Fleming knew exactly what he was doing when he put entertainment on a higher pedestal than realism, but it should be obvious that life in the Secret Service isn’t laden with shootouts and car chases. Being a spy is not glamorous – if anything, it’s rather mundane – but it also has the potential to be a lonely and disheartening profession where innumerable lives are lost for negligible results. It’s this feeling at the heart of the 1969 masterpiece, Army of Shadows.

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