The Quiller Memorandum

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The Quiller Memorandum
Film poster by Tom Beauvais
Directed by Michael Anderson
Produced by Ivan Foxwell
Screenplay by Harold Pinter
Based on The Berlin Memorandum
1965 novel
by Elleston Trevor
Starring George Segal
Alec Guinness
Max von Sydow
Senta Berger
Music by John Barry
Cinematography Erwin Hillier
Edited by Frederick Wilson
Distributed by Rank Organisation (UK)
20th Century Fox (US)
Release date
10 November 1966 (UK)
15 December 1966 (US)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $1,500,000 (US/ Canada)[1]

The Quiller Memorandum is a 1966 Anglo-American Eurospy film filmed in De Luxe color and Panavision, adapted from the 1965 spy novel The Berlin Memorandum, by Elleston Trevor under the name "Adam Hall", screenplay by Harold Pinter, directed by Michael Anderson, featuring George Segal, Alec Guinness, Max von Sydow and Senta Berger. The film was shot on location in West Berlin and in Pinewood Studios, England. It was nominated for 3 BAFTA Awards,[2] while Pinter was nominated for an Edgar Award for the script.

The film is a spy-thriller set in 1960s West Berlin, where agent Quiller is sent to investigate a neo-Nazi organisation.

The film had its World Premiere on 10 November 1966 at the Odeon Leicester Square in the West End of London.


In the dead of the night a man walks down a deserted Berlin street, and enters a phone booth. But as he dials a number, he is shot dead.

Jones was the second British operative to be murdered in Berlin by a secret neo-Nazi organisation, Phoenix. The British send Quiller (George Segal) to Berlin where, at the Nazis' 1936 Olympia Stadium, his controller Pol (Alec Guinness) explains "a new generation of Nazis has grown up, difficult to recognize because they don't wear uniforms anymore", and orders him to find their organisation - Phoenix's HQ. Pol's superiors in London, Gibbs (George Sanders) and Rushington (Robert Flemyng), are occasionally seen directing the operation from their gentlemen's club.

Back in Berlin, Quiller shakes off someone following him, then confronts the tail in a pub, only to discover the man is his minder, Hengel (Peter Carsten). Hengel gives Quiller the few items found in Jones' possession, when he was murdered; a bowling alley ticket, a swimming-pool ticket and a news cutting. Quiller asks after Jones at the bowling alley without success; the swimming pool manager Hassler (Günter Meisner) also sends him packing.

Pretending to be a reporter, Quiller visits the school featured in the cutting, where a teacher has recently been unmasked as a Nazi war criminal. The headmistress introduces him to teacher Inge Lindt (Senta Berger), who is fluent in English, and whom he interviews about her colleagues, before driving her back to her flat and briefly stopping in, for a drink.

Upon leaving, Quiller confronts a man who seems to be following him. Having earlier told Hengel he understands no German, Quiller is revealed to speak it fluently. The man strenuously denies following him and other man intervenes, before Quiller returns to his hotel. Outside the hotel, a porter bumps into his leg with a heavy suitcase. Though the porter says 'excuse me', Porter thinks its a set-up, but after a moment, Quiller jumps in his car, and drives off, managing to shake his minder, Hengel, who sees men in another car following Quiller. Quiller notices the other car is following him. But, at a traffic light, with the car aside his, Quiller quickly becomes drowsy, and semi-conscious. When the traffic light changes to green, Quiller is unable to move; the passenger door on the car alongside his opens, and a man gently moves Quiller from the driving seat and drives on.

Quiller awakes in a chair in a dilapidated, once-ornate room, surrounded by many of the previous incidental characters, who are all Phoenix members led by a German aristocrat, Oktober (Max von Sydow). Quiller refuses to answer Oktober's questions about the SIS operation and how much they know about Phoenix, and makes a dash to escape from the room but is easily overpowered. A doctor injects him with a truth serum but, although in his delirium he utters a few clues, Quiller is just able to deflect Oktober's questions. Oktober orders him to be killed.

Quiller comes round lying somewhere in the city beside the river. He hails a cab and when his driver gets out, and and he sees several men - all keeping eyes on him, Quiller steals it, evading a pursuing Mercedes before booking himself into a squalid hotel. He telephones Inge from the hall, and they arrange to meet the following evening. Pol also arranges another meeting with Quiller, where his handler explains that each side is trying to discover and annihilate the other's base; Quiller alone is in a position to know both.

After sleeping with Quiller, Quiller admits he isn't a writer, but, is, in fact, an 'investigator', whom is on the trail if neo-nazis. Surprisingly, none of this phases Inge, in any way, and she readily admits she has a friend who might know the location of Phoenix's HQ. Inge takes Quiller to the swimming pool manager, Hassler, who is now much more friendly. He drives Quiller, and Inge to a spot, where Hassler's contact - Inge's headmistress appears, and points to a dilapidated old building, as their headquarters.

Quiller wants to investigate - which the headmistress attempts to rebuff - saying she is correct.

Still, Quiller wants to see not only if the house truly is Phoenix's headquarters, but, if the headmistress, and possibly Inge - are setting him up.

Before Quiller goes to check the house on his own, he tells Inge if he doesn't return in 20 minutes, she's to ring a certain number, Quiller asks her to memorise.

Inge says she will wait for him, and the pool manager and headmistress leave the car for Quiller to drive Inge home. When they are finally alone together in the car Inge tells him she loves him.

The street is the same one on which Quiller's predecessor was murdered at the start of the film. Quiller enters the house, which appears deserted, until he notices Oktober's henchmen standing all around him. They take Quiller into the same room where he was held captive, and later take him down to the cellar via lift, where several men are organising the move to the organisation's new HQ. Quiller is horrified to see Inge has been brought there too. Oktober offers Quiller an ultimatum: either he reveals where the SIS base is by dawn, or both of them will be killed. Quiller is released back onto the dark streets to walk and ponder, surrounded by Oktober's armed men, who – while they keep their silent distance – make it impossible for him to evade them, or use any public telephone to ring his controller.

As dawn breaks, he returns to his hotel, while Oktober's men stand guard outside in the street. The hall phone has already been destroyed to prevent him using it, but he escapes into a courtyard of lock-up garages. Quiller breaks in to on, and is about to hot-wire a car, when he notices a piece of wire on the ground, and finds the car has been booby-trapped in case he attempts this method of escape. Quiller detaches the bomb from underneath the car, and puts it on the bonnet - the vibrations of which casie the bomb to inch forward towards the front, where it will inevitably fall, and explode.

He leaves the bomb, and has about 30 seconds to get himself far enough to not be killed. The bomb explodes, and Oktober's men assume Quiller has been killed. Quiller makes his way to the SIS office, and reports the location of Phoenix's HQ. Pol appears calmly indifferent, and asks Quiller to make a full report for the record, as he arranges to round up the gang. A few minutes later, the phone rings to report they are all arrested. Quiller asks about Inge, and is told there was no woman at the scene.yet Inge turns out not to be among them.

Later, Quiller walks into Inge's classroom. Inge explains she "was lucky they let me go", but Quiller has already realized; Inge is not who she seems. Inge says she tried to ring the number Quiller had given her, but says it just rang, to which Quiller replies; 'I must've given you the wrong number'. Quiller tells Inge; 'we got them all... well, maybe not quite all', the implication being Inge is a member of Phoenix, and she had been set up with Quiller from the very beginning.

Quiller tells Inge if ever he comes to Berlin again, he will call her - meaning he knows who she is. He then says a curt 'goodbye', and walks away from the school building, passing the headmistress, who momentarily seems surprised to see him alive, as Inge watches him depart before returning to her schoolchildren.



  • Victor Beaumont as Weiss, Bowling Alley Manager
  • Harry Brooks Jr. as Oktober's Man (The tall Blond)
  • Herbert Fux as Oktober's Man (Man with pipe)
  • Paul Hansard as Doctor Loewe
  • Philo Hauser as Night Porte
  • John Moulder-Brown as Pupil with Inge
  • Hans Schwarz Jr. as Barman
  • Herbert Stass as Kenneth Lindsay Jones
  • Konrad Thoms as School Porter
  • Claus Tinney as Hughes

Awards and critical reception[edit]

At the 1967 BAFTA Awards the film had nominations in the best "Art Direction", "Film Editing" and "Screenplay" categories, but didn't win. Harold Pinter was nominated for an Edgar Award in the "Best Motion Picture" category, but also didn't win.[3]

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 67% of critics gave the film a positive rating, based on 12 reviews, with an average score of 7.4/10. Variety magazine commented that "it relies on a straight narrative storyline, simple but holding, literate dialog and well-drawn characters." Ian Nathan of Empire Magazine described the film as "daft, dated and outright confusing most of the time, but undeniably fun" and rated it with 3/5 stars.[4]

Score and soundtrack[edit]

The Quiller Memorandum
Soundtrack album by John Barry
Released 1966 (1966)
Length 34:37
Label Columbia Records

The mainly orchestral atmospheric soundtrack composed by John Barry was released by Columbia in 1966. Performed by Matt Monro, "Wednesday's Child" was released also as a single.[5][6]

  1. "Wednesday's Child" – Main Theme (Instrumental)
  2. "Quiller Caught" – The Fight
  3. "The Barrel Organ"
  4. "Oktober" – Walk from the River
  5. "Downtown" (composed by Tony Hatch)
  6. "Main Title Theme"
  7. "Wednesday's Child" – Vocal Version (Lyrics: Mack David / Vocals: Matt Monro)
  8. "The Love Scene" – The Old House
  9. "Autobahn March"
  10. "He Knows The Way Out"
  11. "Night Walk in Berlin"
  12. "Quiller and the Bomb"
  13. "Have You Heard of a Man Called Jones?" – Closing Theme


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968 p 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.
  2. ^ – info
  3. ^ IMDb – Awards
  4. ^ "The Quiller Memorandum (1966)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 December 2008. 
  5. ^ – soundtrack info
  6. ^ – soundtrack info

External links[edit]