Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fact and Fiction in TV and Film Spies


By Wesley Britton

While writing my three spy books, the most frequently asked question I've heard is--"Was any of this based on actual things that happen in espionage? Are there any links between the real covert world and what we see on TV and in the movies?"

The answer is: Yes. NO. And sort of.

Below is a somewhat informal overview of connections between Hollywood and the actual shadow world of intelligence gathering, a collection of stories showing no one should look to television or Hollywood for history lessons. This article is by no means comprehensive. For many more examples, parallels, influences, and even unintentional prophecies in movies and TV shows, well, check out my books.

The 1950s

The closest ties between television spy series and actual law enforcement agencies occurred during the 1950s due to two prime reasons. As chronicled in depth in Chapter Two of my Spy Television (Praeger, 2004), Hollywood producers were very nervous during the McCarthy era when Congress was looking at the entertainment industry with deep suspicion. To demonstrate their patriotism and support for democracy, various producers looked to books like I Led Three Lives (Syndicated on television, 1953-1956) and dramatized what were allegedly real FBI cases. During these years, Hollywood went to great lengths to associate such spy shows with federal agencies, and producers like Frederic W. Ziff paid government consultants to look over the scripts and help shape the tone of praise and tribute for their operatives even in more imaginative series like Crusader (CBS, 1955-1956) and A Man Called X (Syndicated, 1955-1956).

In addition, a vogue of the time, a carry-over from radio drama, was the popularity of "true life" stories like those shown in Dragnet, Tales of Texas Rangers, and a host of others. Radio's I Was A Communist for the FBI was one case in point. Between 1952 and 1954, popular actor Dana Andrews starred as Matt Cvetic, the name of a real undercover agent in a concept repeated in a number of television series and a film of the same name in 1951. An unabashed plug for the House Un-American Committee, the Cvetic scripts featured a heroic, glamorized Pittsburgh steel worker working undercover to identify blue-collar Reds for the FBI. Previously, Andrews had starred in Behind the Iron Curtain (1948), one of the first Hollywood films fusing actual espionage files with early Cold War propaganda. Loosely based on a Canadian incident, Andrews played a Russian defector who tripped up 10 Russian agents (Strada 85). Andrews' radio series too shoed a didactic purpose. In each episode, the story ended with Andrews observing: "I was a Communist for the FBI. I walk alone." (note 1)

Even completely fictional shows had links to Cold War covert actions. One story I wasn't able to tell in full in my first book regarded one popular series, Biff Baker, USA (CBS, 1952-1953). In this Frederic W. Ziff production, Alan Hale Jr. (the future "Skipper" on Gilligan's Island) starred as Baker, the perfect mix of American patriotism and commercial interests, an import-export businessman drawn into exotic adventures each week. But the popularity of the show's concept led to controversy. The sponsor, the American Tobacco Company, received complaints from business groups protesting the implication that American businessmen were spying for the government. These letters were forwarded to the FBI, and the script consultants explained in a trade journal the FBI, State Department, and the Commerce Department all approved the scripts. The show’s producer’s stated the show was intended to be overt propaganda urging the world to move forward in accepting American democracy. Therefore, any attack on the show was an attack on democracy.

As it happened, the CIA was in fact recruiting anyone it could to assist in intelligence gathering in Russia. This program, code-named “Redskin,” asked clergymen, tourists, business executives, journalists, scientists, academics, athletes, and chess players to report on anything they might see behind the Iron Curtain. Unlike colorful Biff, these travelers were told to do nothing illegal, not to penetrate secret facilities, or recruit Soviet citizens (Macdonald 105; Richelson 257). At the same time, from the Truman administration onward, “Operation Shamrock” had American Telegraph companies co-operating with the NSA (Bamford 438). According to Todd Hoffman, at least 17 commercial airlines had ties with the CIA, cooperating with the government to both perform photo-surveillance and test enemy military response. Some report the 1978 flight 007 shoot-down by the Russians was a tragic consequence of such operations (Hoffman 81).

Of course, the device of pulling civilians into undercover work became a dominant theme in spy literature, films, and television up to the present day. One short-lived TV series, Masquerade, (ABC, 1983-1984) was built around the idea that patriotic travelers would be useful agents as no government had files on them. Actor Rod Taylor played the guy with this idea, and the young Kristie Alley and Greg Avegin were the field agents sent out to recruit folks like you and me to fight television baddies.

Another issue during the 1950s was Washington's fears that Hollywood was filled with Reds. For the most part, Russian spymasters actually considered Hollywood far removed from their centers of operation on the East Coast. As a result, spying in California was more comedy than threat. For example, Paramount music director Boris Morris flim flammed the KGB into subsidizing a number of fruitless ventures, planted one Soviet spy in Paramount’s Berlin office, and helped transfer monies for the NKVD, the predecessor to the KGB, in between work for Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Laural and Hardy, and Bing Crosby (Hayes 200). He asked for funds to set up a company that would create music specials for film and television showcasing Russian composers. But the KGB correctly discovered the project would have been more to Morris personal advantage than any espionage efforts.

Ultimately, Morris became a double agent for the FBI and helped indict a trio of Soviet contacts. He wrote a melodramatic memoir, My Ten Years as a Counterspy, and saw his self-aggrandized accounts turned into the film, Man on a String (1960) starring Earnest Borginne as Morris. “I hated everything the Communists stood for,” Morris told interviewers, “and had to play a role more difficult than
any of my actors played in the movies.” (Weinstein 113-9) In addition to Morris, KGB agent Steven Laird used his position as an RKO film producer as cover for his travels in the 1940s. These two agents, apparently, were the cream of the Soviet crop. Hardly worth the agony of what the House Un-American Committee put the country through.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

In the 1960s, however, the far-fetched adventures of James Bond were far more influential than the televised black-and-white counter-espionage agents of the previous decade. Still, unusual connections between fact and fiction aren’t hard to find. Some situations arose when viewers couldn't distinguish between romantic entertainment and the realities of espionage. To begin with, when The Man From U.N.C.L.E. debuted in 1964, many viewers thought the organization was not only real, but a likely place to find glamorous employment. According to a 2000 report by Kenneth Pringele, the UN was not the only official body to receive inquires about U.N.C.L.E. Apparently, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was not amused. His reply to letter writers, young and old, was "For your information, the television series entitled The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is fictitious. There is no government agency which performs the functions portrayed in this program."

As described in my Beyond Bond: Spies in Fiction and Film, even government officials inquired about U.N.C.L.E. In 1966, someone from the office of California Rep. John V. Tunney, the son of boxing champ Gene Tunney and later a senator, called the FBI on behalf of an unnamed individual interested in U.N.C.L.E. At one point, the United Nations hired a secretary whose only task was to answer U.N.C.L.E. correspondence.

Get Smart

Just for fun, here's one passage from Spy Television regarding Get Smart and the CIA:

".. later revelations about the show’s connections to the real espionage community were as humorous as the intentional comedy. In August 1966, the U.S. Army Counter-Intelligence Corps invited Get Smart cast members to entertain at its 19th Annual Convention Banquet. According to Donna McCrohan, network publicists asked that photos be cleared for public release, and real spies posed with Adams and Feldon for gag shots (89-91). But the earlier clearance was revoked, and the photos could never be used. Agents demanded the negatives of the film and a letter stating the negatives had been given over. The letter was written with a carbon, but the carbon had been reversed. One operative confiscated the carbon paper and burned it in an ashtray. Equally unusual was a revelation by a former CIA operative that his agency was concerned that Get Smart’s writers occasionally came too close to reality, especially the Cone of Silence which they in fact had created. The agency considered sending the producers a list of areas to avoid, but elected not to as they feared such a list would result in a parody of their effort."

Very likely. After all, a prime directive of Buck Henry, Mel Brooks, and the other creators of Get Smart was to satirize a profession they felt was idiotic. Some true-life encounters could have indeed easily been inspirations for Get Smart scripts. For example, both governmental and industry representatives came to film sets when they were either hopeful that some gadgets might be useful in the field or when they feared, as with Get Smart, Hollywood might have stumbled onto gizmos actually in use. The Man From U.N.C.L.E. set was visited by officers from the U.S. Army who wondered if the five-piece U.N.C.L.E. gun might have practical applications. Hughes Aircraft sent investigators to the Mission: Impossible set to make sure one hydrofoil device was really a prop and not a working model of a machine they had patented.

Strangely, Get Smart's comic gadgets found new interest in the 21st Century. On December 26, 2001, Get Smart was mentioned on the Jay Leno show in an almost inevitable joke. Four days earlier, Richard Reed had tried to blow up a plane with a bomb in his shoe; like other observers that week, Leno wondered if Reed had been watching too many Get Smarts.

Mission: Impossible

In a 2001 TV Guide interview, actress Barbara Bain disclaimed any connections between her series and real-life espionage. She claimed no one, at that time, believed the fantastic adventures of Mission: Impossible could actually happen (Johnson). In truth, MI had more to do with the CIA than perhaps any other series. As discussed in Spy Television, CIA supervisors felt obligated to watch the show. The next morning, they'd get phone calls asking "Can we do that?" Actor Peter Graves reported that CIA agents joked with him about what they wished they could do. "You should have our writers," Graves reportedly replied.

Other connections between actual intelligence agents and Hollywood and MI include one NSA spy, Brent Morris, who was a magician who learned his first tricks from the Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody children’s TV show. As an adult, like Roland Hand and Barney Collier in MI, he combined math and magic to break codes (Bamford 535). One unique connection between television and the CIA began in 1966 when Robert Culp saught out John Chambers, an expert on facial prosthetics, to help actor/script-writer Culp prepare a disguise for an episode of I Spy called “The Warlord.” For this story, Culp wanted to play both his Kelly Robinson and a character called Chuang-Tzu. According to Marck Cushman:

“While working on "The War Lord," Chambers received a message that a producer named Arthur Jacobs was trying to reach him from London. Chambers had never heard of Jacobs and, having been burned so often by wannabe producers looking to make cheap monster movies, was unsure whether he should return the call. Culp, on the other hand, knew very well who Arthur Jacobs was, and advised Chambers to respond quickly and request airline tickets to London. When "War Lord" wrapped, Chambers flew to England to meet with Jacobs, and was hired to create simian faces for planet of the Apes.” (Cushman 243)

As a result of this work, in 1971, CIA operative Tony Mendez approached Chambers to help create disguises for intelligence officers. Chambers' first contribution was to design two latex masks for spies in Laos. In 1979, Chambers was flown to Washington in an aborted plan to help create a false Shah of Iran to fake the ailing leader leaving the U.S. in order to help lessen tensions in the first days of the Iranian hostage crisis.

President Carter opted not to be pressured by Iranian demonstrators into any such action. But, in 1980, Chambers did help set up a Mission: Impossible-like "Big Store" con to help extricate six U.S. diplomats hiding in the Canadian embassy in Terran. According to the 2001 AMC television special, "Into the Shadows: the CIA in Hollywood," Chambers contacted producer Bob Siddell who established fake identities for the Americans as a movie crew seeking locations in the desert. For fifteen years, Chambers worked for both movie studios and the CIA, and by the time his story was de-classified in 2001, his Oscar sat beside his other most prized possession, his Medal of Honor for special services. (note 2)

TV Stories, Real Case Files, and Realistic Themes

Gadgets and gizmos are one matter--what about the stories in which they were used? Of course, many connections between the intelligence community and TV plots were accidental. When writers for The Avengers crafted the episode, "You'll Catch Your Death" in 1968, no one could have imagined a story about a deadly virus sent through the mail would actually occur over thirty years later when a still unknown terrorist sent anthrax-laced powder to several media outlets. Likewise, the realism of I Spy stories often seemed prescient in later decades. For example, one episode, “Cup of Kindness,” included a dilemma for Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp) that was repeated in fact. In the TV episode, Robinson was heart-broken when he learned his mentor was a traitor, and Robert Culp's character was obligated to turn him in. Similarly, in the 1980s, a disbelieving intelligence officer, Daniel Wilson, was recruited to turn in his role model and mentor, Clyde Conrad, who turned out to be the most dangerous double agent in Europe. More bizarrely, perhaps, traitor Sgt. Dennis Bray faked his death in a bogus boat accident in the Cayman Islands near Jamaica. he then hid out in nearby islands until a pair of suspicious agents tracked him down. This 1980s incident echoed one I Spy story, "Spy Business," where Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott (Bill Cosby) tracked down a defector hiding out on Janitzio Island in Mexico. (note 3) As it happened, the creator of I Spy had his own brush with Russian espionage. In 1967, Sheldon Leonard and his wife flew to Moscow to try to convince the Soviets that filming I Spy on location in the Soviet Union would be good PR for their government. The Russians were well aware of the show and didn’t like it. One night, Leonard and his wife discussed places they’d like to see while in Russia—the next morning, their guide referred to their desires. So the Leonards realized their hotel room had been bugged. No I Spy episodes were ever filmed there. (Cushman 313)

For the most part, from the beginning of television broadcasts, those who looked for any semblance of "realism" in secret agent adventures looked to British productions. When I discuss Secret Agent and The Prisoner in Spy Television, I note the Brits often took the covert world more seriously as first World War II and then the Cold War were fought literally in their own back yards. Thus, many such series were more philosophical in their explorations into contemporary issues. The first questions about the viability of spying, the suspicious morality and ethics of spies, and the theme of betrayal were matters of constant interest in British headlines. So when Number Six wasn't certain which side had imprisoned him in The Prisoner, he reflected attitudes that would come to dominate much popular concern about what the CIA, MI5, and other agencies were up to.

For example, one story has it that the inspiration for The Prisoner was allegedly a book actor Patrick McGoohan and a co-writer, George Markstein, read about an actual "retirement" home for ex-spies. Another version told by Patrick McGoohan was that the basic premise came not from a book but from a personal acquaintance. In a TV Guide interview, McGoohan stated "What do you do with defectors, or with people who have top-secret knowledge of the highest order and who, for one reason or another, want out? Do you shoot them? I know there are places where these people are kept. Not voluntarily, and in absolute luxury. There are three in this country--let someone deny it! I know about them because I know someone who used to be associated with the service." (Barthel) (note 4) Thus,
some series dealt less with the "reality" of espionage, but more so with themes of what we feared it might be.

The most realistic British spy program ever produced was The Sandbaggers. This short-lived series (1978-1979) revolved around agents who spent much more time in government offices debating with civil servants than gun slinging in the trenches. This series, fortunately now available on DVD, was written by a former British agent, Ian Mackintosh, who shared much in attitude and approach with fellow ex-spy, novelist John Le Carre. (note 5) Le Carre, too, contributed to the TV realm of espionage on the BBC in England and on PBS in America. Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) and Smiley's People (1982) also relied more on dialogue than action-adventure. As documented in Le Carre's commentary for the DVD release of Tinker (and discussed in Spy Television), Alec Guiness's portrayal of George Smiley was partially based on conversations between the actor and a former intelligence chief. Whenever you ask an ex or current spy what writer best reflects what former CIA director James Angelton described as a "Wilderness of Mirrors," they invariably mention John Le Carre. One spy, Todd Hoffman, even devoted a book to the subject. (See "Works Cited" below.)

Again, programs based on such writings can't be considered docu-dramas of actual case files, but Mackintosh, Le Carre, and a number of other English play and TV script writers used "the furniture of espionage" (Le Carre's term) to explore the English class system, patriotism, and democratic values in a realm of what many considered shadow governments.

Realism in the New Century

In the 21st century, realism dominates TV shows with some surprising connections between the shadow world and popular conceptions. Again, in Spy Television, I discuss the creation of The Agency, a show that was both initially both praised and criticized for returning to the propagandistic themes of the 1950s. CIA agent and TV advisor Chase Brandon even helped promote the show, telling David Ensor on CNN that “In the acting job that we do as part of our workaday world, it’s very similar to the notion of role-playing and acting in Hollywood. The difference is that, here, when somebody says `cut,’ they’re talking about stopping the action. For us, it could be your throat.” (note 6) The CIA allowed the show to shoot some scenes in their headquarters as they understood the series would portray agents as honorable men and women trying to balance domestic and professional duties. (This cooperation mirrored an earlier situation between, of all series, The X-Files and the FBI. One FBI agent was a consultant for the X-Files movie, Fight the Future, helping give the offices and meeting rooms in the film a realistic setting. See discussion of Spy Game below.)

In the aftermath of the national tragedy of 9/11, during the months when Hollywood re-considered how our culture had changed, episodes of The Agency were held back as they included mentions of Islamic terrorists and an anthrax attack. By the time these episodes were aired, they were found tame and undramatic--reality, for once, had overwhelmed imagination. Of course, in the wake of popular series such as Law and Order, new shows tried to use plot lines "ripped from headlines." From an early draft of Spy Television:

"Such blendings of fact and fancy had much to do with the past fifty years of television’s secret agents, and such mergings dominated TV screens in 2001 on both news and entertainment channels. For example, various news magazines reported one interesting discussion after the September 11 attack on America. October articles suggested government intelligence officers and Hollywood scriptwriters should collaborate on actual anti-terrorism plans because TV and movie creators had already thought through any number of possible scenarios. As fans of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin observed in on-line discussions, the new international collaboration, or coalition, against terrorism sounded very much like a new World order needing an U.N.C.L.E.-like organization. The shows of the past now seemed prophetic. Television fiction had gone where reality was forced to follow.

"Then again, headlines now seemed to shape new plot lines. in April 2001, a Red Chinese jet hit an American Navy spy plane working for the NSA over the China Sea, an incident reminiscent of the opening scenes in the Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. In the pierce Brosnon adventure, an evil media kingpin had wanted to start a war between China and the U.S. by staging just such a confrontation to boost the ratings of his new CNN-like network. In the real world, CNN indeed devoted considerable coverage to the unfolding drama. We watched as the Chinese scoured the wreck for insights into U.S. intelligence and listened to reactions while the Chinese held the 24 crewmembers as political hostages for eleven days. In November, these events would be fictionalized in a multi-part story line in the CBS military law series, JAG. Similarly, on April 23rd, a Peruvian pilot working for the CIA shot down a suspected drug-smuggling plane only to learn it carried American missionaries. This incident was later dramatized in the second episode of the new TV series, The Agency. After September 11, few dramatic series could avoid references to the new war on terrorism, and such connections between the real world and broadcast fiction would be most evident in new TV spies."

In 2003, such new series included the British MI5 and ABC's Threat Matrix in which the spoken-word narration over the theme music states "We are making progress." In short order, scripts for these shows preceded headlines. In one fall 2003 episode of MI5, tensions heated up between the British agency and America's Secret Service over protection for a presidential visiting Buckingham Palace. In November 2003, these tensions became fact when CNN reported just such a conflict, and that Queen Elizabeth vetoed an American request to have a helicopter hovering over the palace during President Bush's visit.

Other Film Connections

After 9/11, some major picture scripts occasionally went to some efforts to focus on developed characters and realistic plot lines, notably director Tony Scott's 2001 Spy Game starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. According to Scott's commentary for the DVD release of the film, his research for the project included a visit to CIA headquarters to both establish a believable look for this recurring setting in Spy Game and see what the faces of real agents looked like. One producer, he noted, claimed the real CIA looked more like "a car convention in Texas" than a Hollywood spectacular, so Scott decided to cast many of his characters based on how closely they resembled the faces he'd seen in Langley.

In his commentary, Scott pointed to the impact of 9/11 on the content and context of Spy Game's release. Early screenings before the attack on America were positive, but after 9/11, along with many other projects, Hollywood worried about images in action films. In particular, Spy Game's climactic moment involved a suicide bomber bringing down a building in Beirut. Universal Studios at first suggested cutting the scene, but Scott worked to make the scene "less operatic" and more linear. Screenings 10 days after 9/11 showed audience response even more favorable than before, although Scott speculated for a few seconds, audiences would be out of the movie, thinking on its parallels to recent events. For a brief time, Universal held off release of the film, but all Hollywood quickly saw audiences were rebounding from the images of the Trade Towers collapse.

In other new films, realism was accidental. In 2002, Die Another Day had 007 battling North Korean bad guys intent on making their country a new super-power in the international community. At the same time the film earned its box office bonanza, North Korea in fact initiated an international crisis by reactivating its nuclear arms program and was dubbed part of George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil" in the new President's 2002 State of the Union address. Ironically, films purporting to be historic are perhaps more fictional than 007. After the release of The Good Shepard in 2006, several CIA historians decided to respond to the distortions and inaccuracies in the allegedly true story of the origins of the agency in a "round table" review scheduled for the de-classified March 2007 issue of Studies in Intelligence.

Recently, two articles have discussed connections between TV stories and reality. Comparisons between 24 and actual torture in Iraq are discussed at:

And observations about the 2007 premiere for Burn Notice and uses of that term by former CIA head George Tenet are in a review of the new series:


1. For more on this story, see "They Were Communists for the FBI: The Stories of Matt Cvetic and Herbert Philbric" posted at this website. In another file here, "THE INDISPENSIBLES: THE BEST 30 SPY FILMS OF ALL TIME," I review House on 92nd Street, a docu-drama blending fact, fiction, and propaganda.

2. Years after their work together on I Spy, Culp was asked to present a Lifetime Achievement Award to John Chambers. According to Mark Cushman, Culp hadn't seen the makeup artist in years, and was surprised to see Chambers arrive at the ceremony in a wheelchair.
The fumes Chambers inhaled for his entire professional career, the very same fumes Culp remembered smelling in Chambers' garage workshop back in 1965 and '66, had ruined the makeup artist's lungs, damaged his liver, and attacked his nervous system.

Culp threw away the speech he had written, then stepped to the podium and talked without a script, from the heart, about the generosity, the talent, and the sacrifice of a true artist named John Chambers.

3. For details about the actual spies, see the lengthy descriptions of these events in Stuart Herrington's
Traitors Among Us: Inside the Spy-Catcher's World (See "Works Cited" below).

In actual spycraft, enemies who saw themselves as more enterprising and clever than others earned a term for their attitudes, suffering from the “playing to an empty house syndrome.” Such spies and traitors pity the ordinary masses who don’t have the under-appreciated merits of those who make their own rules (Herrington 130). While such justifications lacked credibility in the courts, they served scriptwriters well in providing character motivation for adversaries in spy fiction on the page, large screen, and television.

4. Thanks to J. K. Wilson who provided me with this information via the Channel D list serve.

5. Chapter 12 of Spy Television discusses TV plays and movies based on other English authors including Dennis Potter and Alan Bennett. Both wrote works based on the famous British traitors who were members of the "Cambridge Spy Ring." The chapter also mentions TV movies based loosely on the life of James Bond creator, Ian Fleming. And, while I'm at it, Edward Woodward, star of The Equalizer, reported being a fan of Le Carre and based his portrayal of his character on his own studies of the drudgery of actual intelligence work. See Spy Television for further details.

6. Broadcast Sept. 1, 2001, on “CNN Saturday Morning.”

Works Cited

Bamford, James. Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-secret National Security Agency from the Cold War to the Dawn of a New Century. New York: Doubleday. 2001.
Barthel, Joan. "An Enigma Comes to American TV." TV Guide. May 25, 1968
Britton, Wesley. Beyond Bond: Spies in Fiction and Film. Westport, CT: Praeger. 2005.
Britton, Wesley. Spy Television. Westport, CT: Praeger. 2004.
Cushman, Marc and Linda J. LaRosa. I Spy: A History and Episode Guide, 1965-1968. Jefferson, NC: Mcfareland and Co. 2007.
Hayes, John Earl and Harvey Klehr. Vevona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America. Yale Univ. P. 1999.
Herrington, Stuart. Traitors Among Us: Inside the Spy-Catcher's World. Novato, CA: Presidio. 1999.
Hoffman, Todd. John Le Carre's Landscape. Montreal: Mcgill's Queens University Press. 2001.
Johnson, Ted. “Wry Spies.” TV Guide. November 8-14. 1997.
Macdonald, J. Fred. Television and the Red Menace: The Video Road to Viet Nam. New York: Praiger. 1985.
McCrohan, Donna. The Life and Times of Maxwell Smart. New York: St. Martins. 1988.
Richelson, Jeffrey T. A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the 20th Century. New York: Oxford. 1995.
Strada, Michael and Harold Troper. Friend or Foe: Russians in American Film and Foreign Policy (1933-1991). Lanhan, MD: Scarecrow Press. 1997.
Weinstein, Allen and Alexander Vassiliev. The Haunted Wood. Soviet Espionage in America: The Stalin Years. New York: Random House. 1999.

For related articles, see

1 comment:

Moor Larkin said...

I think Danger Man/Secret Agent was full of direct lifts from reported Spycases of the first half and a bit of the 20th Century. The key word is *reported* of course. The newspapers in those days were full of spy stories.

Also bear in mind that some British screen-writes were ex-wartime SOE "spies" themselves: Paul Dehn comes to mind, and also Leo Marks. The same is doubtless true of Americans.