The Human Factor (1979 film)
|The Human Factor|
Theatrical release poster by Saul Bass
|Directed by||Otto Preminger|
Graham Greene |
The Human Factor|
by Graham Greene
Richard Attenborough |
Richard Logan |
|Edited by||Richard Trevor|
|Distributed by||Rank Film Distributors|
The Human Factor is a 1979 British thriller film starring Richard Attenborough, Nicol Williamson, Derek Jacobi and John Gielgud. It is based on the 1978 novel The Human Factor by Graham Greene, with the screenplay written by Tom Stoppard. It examined British espionage, and the West's relationship with apartheid South Africa.
The film was directed by Otto Preminger, the 38th and final film he directed in his nearly half-century career.
Maurice Castle (Nicol Williamson) is a mid-level bureaucrat in MI6 whose life seems completely without peculiarity, peccadillo, or any quality to suggest he’s anything but a dull bureaucrat, except for the interesting, casually introduced detail that he has an African wife, Sarah (Iman), and son, Sam (Gary Forbes). Meanwhile, the company regime, represented by corpulent, bluffly cheery Dr Percival (Robert Morley), who’s actually an expert in assassinations and biological toxins, and éminence grise, Sir John Hargreaves (Richard Vernon), advise newly appointed security chieftain Daintry (Richard Attenborough), they believe they have a traitor at the MI6 African desk. The duo determine the mole must be quietly killed, rather than be allowed publicity in a trial or a flight to Moscow. They determine quickly the most likely candidate for the traitor is Arthur Davis (Derek Jacobi), Castle’s playboy office partner.
Castle is the mole, but the information he leaks is entirely unimportant financial documents. He became involved in leaking to the Soviets when he was an MI6 agent in South Africa, seven years earlier: he met and fell in love with Sarah, and when their affair was discovered by the authorities, Castle was all but thrown out of the country, and he entrusted Sarah’s smuggling out of the country to a mutual communist acquaintance. Ever since, he’s been repaying the favor by filtering insignificant data to the Soviets. Castle makes one last informational drop to his communist handlers and is summarily whisked off to Moscow for protection. However, Castle's primary problem is he is not a communist, nor a sympathizer, of any kind. His only interest is in his wife and son, who are left in London — where they remain separated from him.
- Richard Attenborough - Colonel Daintry
- John Gielgud - Brigadier Tomlinson
- Derek Jacobi - Arthur Davis
- Robert Morley - Doctor Percival
- Ann Todd - Castle's Mother
- Nicol Williamson - Maurice Castle
- Iman - Sarah
- Joop Doderer - Cornelius Muller
- Richard Vernon - Sir John Hargreaves
- Angela Thorne - Lady Hargreaves
- Fiona Fullerton - Elizabeth
- Tony Haygarth - Buffy
The film was shot in Kenya and at Shepperton Studios near London as well as on location at Berkhamsted. As with the book, much of the theme about alleged treason and suspicion is based on the defection of Kim Philby, a friend of Graham Greene, to the Soviets. The film also included Iman, who was working as a model before she began to work in films.
Preminger had trouble securing funding for the film and had to partially fund it with his own money. Reportedly, Preminger wanted to cast the novelist Jeffrey Archer in the role played by Nicol Williamson. Archer, much shorter than Iman, failed his audition.
- "The Human Factor (1979) - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com.
- Roderick Heath, "The Human Factor" Review, 14 May 2011 http://thisislandrod.blogspot.com/2011/05/human-factor-1979.html
- Nat Segaloff, Final Cuts: The Last Films of 50 Great Directors, Bear Manor Media 2013 p 234-235
- "Rose Tobias Shaw, casting director - obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.