The Kremlin Letter

Released 1970 by 20th Century Fox, widescreen Panavision color, mono sound, 120 mins.
Boone as spy leader Ward, photo from Cold




"It's the harshest of Huston's films. After its failure, he was rarely asked about The Kremlin Letter, but remarks before its release, taken with the fact that Huston (unusually for his later years) also takes script credit with his longtime personal assistant Gladys Hill, suggest it was a very personal project for him, an expression of horror at the wickedness and cynicism of the world. The Kremlin Letter is set very precisely in the winter of 1969--in other words, a few months after it was actually made--but it's a film full of the past. There is, however, absolutely no nostalgia. This is a movie in which people lie a lot. It's less a lament for the old days than a cold-eyed differentiation between types of violence and evil. It is absolutely characteristic of Huston in that it's both a group movie and a grail movie. This time, the false grail being pursued--one whose existence may be as illusory as that of the Maltese falcon or as fragile as the treasure of the Sierra Madre--is a letter which a Western spy chief has been duped into signing, unambiguously committing the United States to aid Russia in a secret mission aimed against China's burgeoning nuclear capability. The letter has gone missing in Moscow and the group must find it. " (quote from Peter Richards in Cold


History Department | Filmnotes | revised 1/6/2000 by Schoenherr