Spies Like Us
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|Spies Like Us|
Theatrical release poster illustrated by John Alvin
|Directed by||John Landis|
|Produced by||George Folsey, Jr.
|Screenplay by||Dan Aykroyd
|Story by||Dan Aykroyd
|Music by||Elmer Bernstein
|Edited by||Malcolm Campbell|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Spies Like Us is a 1985 American comedy film directed by John Landis and starring Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Forrest, and Donna Dixon. The film presents the comic adventures of two novice intelligence agents sent to the Soviet Union. Originally written by Aykroyd and Dave Thomas to star Aykroyd and John Belushi at Universal, the script went into turnaround and was later picked up by Warner Bros. with Aykroyd and Chevy Chase starring.
The film is a homage to the famous Road to … movie series which starred Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. Hope himself makes a cameo in one scene. Other cameos in the film include directors Terry Gilliam, Sam Raimi, Costa-Gavras and Joel Coen, musician B. B. King, and visual effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen.
Austin Millbarge is a geekish, basement-dwelling codebreaker for The Pentagon who aspires to escape his under-respected job to become a secret agent. Emmett Fitz-Hume, a wisecracking, pencil-pushing son of an envoy, takes the foreign service exam under peer pressure. Millbarge and Fitz-Hume meet during the test, on which Fitz-Hume openly attempts to cheat after an attempt to seduce his immediate supervisor in exchange for the answers backfires. Millbarge, however, was forced to take the test, having had only one day to prepare after his supervisor gives him a notice that was two weeks old.
Needing expendable agents to act as decoys to draw attention away from a more capable team, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) decides to enlist the two, promote them to be Foreign Service Operatives, put them through minimal training, and then send them on an undefined mission into Soviet Central Asia. Meanwhile, professional agents are well on their way to reaching the real objective: the seizure of a mobile SS-50 ICBM launcher. The main team takes a loss, while Millbarge and Fitz-Hume miraculously escape enemy traps, attacks, and other certain perils. Eventually the bumbling pair encounter Karen Boyer, the only surviving operative from the main team.
In the Pamir Mountains of the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic, the trio overpowers a mobile missile guard unit using hastily constructed extraterrestrial outfits and tranquilizer guns. Following orders in real-time from the intelligence agency (operating from a military bunker located deep under an abandoned drive-in theater), they begin to operate the launcher. At the end of their instructions, the vehicle launches the ICBM into space, targeting an unspecified area in the United States. Thinking they have begun a nuclear war, the American agents and their Soviet counterparts pair up to have sex before the world ends.
Meanwhile, the military commander at the operations bunker (Steve Forrest), initiates the conversion of the drive-in theater to expose what is hidden beneath the screens and projection booth: a huge black-op SDI-esque laser and collector/emitter screen). The purpose of sending the agents to launch a Soviet ICBM is thereby exposed as a means to test this anti-ballistic missile system. Unfortunately, the laser fails to intercept the nuclear missile, which is heading for the U.S. and will almost certainly trigger a global thermonuclear war.
Back in the Soviet Union, guilt-ridden and horrified at the thought of having launched a nuclear missile at their own country, the American spies (and their new Soviet friends) use Millbarge's technical knowledge to force a malfunction in the launcher vehicle and transmit junk instructions to the traveling missile, sending it off into space where it detonates harmlessly. Immediately after, the underground bunker back at the drive-in theater is stormed by U.S. Army Rangers, and the intelligence and military officials involved in the covert operation are arrested. For their part, Millbarge, Fitz-Hume, and Boyer go on to become nuclear disarmament negotiators, playing a nuclear version of Risk-meets-Trivial Pursuit against their Soviet friends.
- Chevy Chase as Emmett Fitz-Hume
- Dan Aykroyd as Austin Millbarge
- Donna Dixon as Karen Boyer
- Bruce Davison as Ruby
- William Prince as Keyes
- Steve Forrest as General Sline
- Tom Hatten as General Miegs
- Bernie Casey as Colonel Rhumbus
- Charles McKeown as Jerry Hadley
- Vanessa Angel as Russian Rocket Crewperson
- James Daughton as Bob Hodges
- Jim Staahl as Bud Schnelker
- Frank Oz as Test Monitor
- Terry Gilliam as Dr. Imhaus
- Ray Harryhausen as Dr. Marston
- Derek Meddings as Dr. Stinson
- Joel Coen as drive-in guard #1
- Sam Raimi as drive-in guard #2
- Martin Brest as drive-in guard #3
- Bob Hope as himself/golfer
- B.B. King as Ace tomato agent
- Heidi Sorenson as Alice, Fitz-Hume's supervisor
- Edwin Newman as himself
The title song for the movie, "Spies Like Us", was written and performed by Paul McCartney. It reached #7 on the singles chart in the United States in early 1986, making it McCartney's last solo top-10 hit in the U.S. to date. It also reached #13 in the UK.
The film's score was composed by Elmer Bernstein and performed by the Graunke Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer. The soundtrack album was released by Varèse Sarabande; it does not contain the Paul McCartney song. The film also featured "Soul Finger," by the Bar-Kays, also absent from the soundtrack.
- The Ace Tomato Company (5:06)
- Off To Spy (1:52)
- Russians In The Desert (2:21)
- Pass In The Tent (2:58)
- Escape (3:25)
- To The Bus (3:14)
- The Road To Russia (3:39)
- Rally 'Round (2:39)
- W.A.M.P. (2:48)
- Martian Act (3:08)
- Arrest (2:21)
- Recall (2:38)
- Winners (1:16)
Spies Like Us was met with mixed to negative reviews at the time of its 1985 release, though it has developed something of a cult following in the years since. As of July 29, 2012, the film holds a 35% approval rating based on 23 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.
- "Paul McCartney > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-08-30.
- "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- "Spies Like Us". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-03-23.
- David T. Friendly (1986-01-02). "Purple, 'africa' Pace Box Office". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
- Jack Matthews (1985-12-25). "A Strong Start for 'Color Purple' in Christmas Box Office Race". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-07-09.
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- Spies Like Us at AllMovie