I had a "really" entertaining evening the other night at the "INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM" here in Washington, D.C. Some CIA and ex-KGB people teamed up with the guys from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the SPY Museum is the result. And what a slick, stylish place the museum is. The exhibits are very well done and the museum is doing well. And as one of very few museums in town that charges for admission, that is quite a feat. I had visited the general exhibits once before, but had never attended any of their programs.
The reason we went down to the "SPY Museum" is that Wes Britton was doing the special program that evening. Wes is the author of SPY TELEVISION and BEYOND BOND books that tie the spy fiction genre to their TV and movie counterparts. The books are quite in-depth and most interesting.
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Wes had originally contacted the FORUM several years ago and asked us to look over the I SPY chapter for his SPY TELEVISION book. We've been in touch ever since, but I had never met him in person. So "Tatia and Faithful Tonto" went down there to surprise him. And we did. What a very, very nice man he is.
It was a most enjoyable evening. The evening featured a discussion and the showing of a film called "The Impossible Spy" that came out in 1987 - which starred John Shea and Eli Wallach. A buried little treasure of a film - that Wes ran across in a video store in Texas. The movie is about the life of Eliahu Cohen, Israel's top spy who infiltrated the Syrian government in the 1960s. At the time of his discovery, he was being considered for the position of Deputy Defense Minister - third in line from the head of the government. The information he passed on about the Golan Heights gun emplacements saved countless lives. The film portrayed the interests of both sides - and presented the main characters on both sides with dignity.
It was a wonderful film, and the producer, Harvey Chertok, was there also. I had never heard of Eli Cohen, or his story, or his execution by the Syrians. They said it was big news in the 60s - and Israel is still fighting to get his body back from Syria to this day. It was called a docu-drama, since they could not get all the records from the CIA, but filled in the blanks through interviews and other research.
Has anyone else ever seen this film? I highly recommend it. It was a joint production with the BBC, and I believe it was for HBO. It was quite interesting because in reality an Irish-American was playing an Israeli playing a Syrian, and all the Syrians in the movie were really Israelis. Eli Wallach was wonderful as the head of the Mossad, and John Shea (who I was unfamiliar with, but understand he played Lex Luther in the "Lois and Clark" Superman series) portrayed Eli Cohen and his "two lives" just beautifully and totally convincingly. Sam Waterston was originally to have played the role, but had to back out, and Shea was recruited - and did an excellent job.
Here's Wes' website - lots of great articles under his SPY-WISE section.
and Wes' in-depth article on THE IMPOSSIBLE SPY and interview with the producer Harvey Chertok including a photo gallery of the film
and here's some additional information on the movie ..... (there are 3 photos here - give them a minute to load)