Shadow of Treason (1964) torrent download

Shadow of Treason

1964

Crime / Drama / Thriller

6.8

Synopsis

The film is based on the actual events of the Portland Spy Ring trial in the U.K. A disgruntled Navy Clerk is transferred to a secret research establishment and is subsequently black-mailed/paid by Czech intelligence to procure secrets for them. He seduces the secretary who controls the most secret documents, and they enjoy the fruits of their treachery until the British authorities begin to close in on them.

Director

Robert Tronson

Cast

Bernard Lee
as Henry Houghton
William Sylvester
as Gordon Lonsdale
Margaret Tyzack
as Elizabeth Gee
David Kossoff
as Peter Kroger
Nancy Nevinson
as Helen Kroger
Thorley Walters
as Cmdr. Winters

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by VanheesBenoit 8 /10

The "infamous five" (Portland Spy Ring case)

"Ring of spies" is a sober but faithful reconstruction in documentary style of the events surrounding the British "Portland Spy Ring". On January 7th 1961, 5 people were arrested in London in connection with espionage activities in the Admiralty Underwater Weapons Establishment in Portland. It was the first major success against a spy network in the UK. It also remains a case which is still today shrouded in a lot of mystery.

Spider in the Portland web was Konon T. Molody, who took the alias of "Gordon Lonsdale". As a facade, this Russian spy posed as a Canadian businessman, renting jukeboxes, bubblegum and gambling machines. This cover allowed him to travel extensively without raising suspicion. Being full of pep, having good looks, lots of cash and a shiny Studebaker, he had lots of beautiful girlfriends attending his cocktail parties. However, behind his "olé olé" facade, he was a skillful KGB-agent, well trained to handle special photographic equipment and to run a spy ring. He was assisted by alias "Peter and Helen Kroger". The Krogers were living in a cozy bungalow at 45 Cranley Drive in the leafy suburb of Ruislip in West-London, posing as sellers of antique books. In reality they were Morris and Lona Cohen, two veteran communist agents, who had previously been involved in the Rosenberg spy case. They managed to slip through the holes of the FBI dragnet, and established themselves under a new -false- identity in the UK. It is interesting to point out that the Ruislip bungalow was situated nearby a US Air Force base. The "Krogers" were responsible to send the material Lonsdale brought to them to Moscow. That material came from two civilians working at Portland, Harry Houghton and Ethel Gee.

Houghton was a staff member of the naval attaché of the British Embassy in Poland in 1951. Already at that time, attracted by easy cash, he was involved in illegal activities, including in black market operations. Starting innocently with coffee, he turned to lucrative medical drugs, a bit like Harry Lime in the "Third Man". He needed the money for entertaining a girlfriend and for his heavy drinking. This vulnerability made him an interesting target for the Polish secret police UB. However, their new asset spoiled it all, by causing outrage during a party at the Embassy in 1952.

This is the starting point of "Ring of spies". After this incident, Houghton is send back to the UK. Although his drinking habits made him a security risk, he gets cleared for a job in the secret Portland facility, specialized in submarine warfare. Pure mismanagement ? Made possible thanks to the intervention of a sufficiently high ranking British civil servant with ties to the Soviets ? Things become even stranger, when somewhere in 1955 or '56, Houghton's wife introduced a complaint against her husband. She told the authorities that her husband brought secret documents to his home. After a rather sloppy investigation (?), the accusation was brushed aside as being unfounded, merely the result of the frustrations of a woman badly treated by her husband. In 1956 she divorced him, and Harry's money problems started again. This led him to move to a small caravan. Probably in the same year, agents from the Eastern Bloc contacted him again, and offered him cash in exchange for secret papers. With the help of his colleague Ethel Gee, he's soon able to move to a nice house and to buy a car, making exactly the same mistakes as Aldrich Ames (see "Traitor within") many years later.

Peter Wright describes in his controversial book "Spy Catcher" how the revelations of a Polish source dubbed "Sniper" helped the British and Americans to identify Houghton, than to pick up the trail that led to Lonsdale and the Krogers. The British had to be particularly careful not to scare off professionals such as Lonsdale or the Krogers. Therefor, it is interesting to combine watching "Ring of spies" with the 1987 movie "A pack of lies". To quote Writerasfilmcritic, who wrote an excellent comment for IMDb about it : "Pack of Lies" is a very interesting drama (about) MI5 agents, led by Alan Bates as "Stuart", (who) skillfully manipulates a well-intentioned British family into believing that they are merely police on a routine investigation who need to use their home (...) "just for the weekend", in order to surveil a suspect who has been tracked into their neighborhood. (End quotation)

POL depicts how MI5 sets up a surveillance in the Ruislip home of Bill and Ruth Search, who happened to live just across the Krogers. The presence of the MI5 agents is soon causing tremendous stress for the Searches,especially for the shy Ruth, who only has one real friend… Helen Kroger! (In POL she looks more flamboyant as the real one)

The defection of "Sniper" to the West, accelerated the arrests of the Portland Spy Ring. Interestingly, Peter Wright is convinced that Moscow knew that Lonsdale had been identified by MI5, but willingly sacrificed him to protect a super-mole within the British intelligence community. Someone within MI5 or 6 who told Moscow all about the progress in the counter-espionage effort against the Portland Spy Ring.

Both Lonsdale and the Krogers received long term prison sentences, but were released a few years later, in exchanged for a British spy. And even this sordid affair had a little bit of fairy tale-quality, as Houghton and Gee married, once they got released from prison.

Reviewed by wilsonstuart-32346 8 /10

The Spies of Ruislip

No need to repeat the background to the actual case that inspired this excellent spy thriller. Compared to the ludicrous heroics and wild SFX of Bond, Bourne or Mission Impossible, Ring Of Spies seems like a different planet. But this was an era when the West faced a different sort of opponent (even if the the three threat was exaggerated to one degree or another). Security breaches had occurred before Portland, and would feature again afterwards, but never had the shadow of the enemy spy felt so close to suburbia and the Home Counties. Although long forgotten now, perhaps only Profumo overtook Portland in terms of (the then) public conscious.

The cast are uniformly good, a real effort is made to dig out (but not condone) Bernard Lee's cash strapped wheeler dealer clerk, and his infatuated spinster girlfriend. William Slyvester excels as the smooth talking professional operating under a Soviet 'legend'. The action takes place in rustic pubs, cafes, drab offices and snack bars - there's no glamour or gadgets in this slow burner, Cold War thriller.

Reviewed by ianlouisiana 7 /10

The Golden Age of Treachery well realised.

Those were the days,I suppose,when we still had some secrets worth stealing.Before we found out that most of the Soviet submarine fleet was unserviceable due to lack of spares,the Red Army would have had to roar into Berlin on bicycles because their tanks were rusting away and their airforce would fallout of the sky because of their non-existent maintenance programme.Of course it wouldn't have done for us to have known that because we might have wondered why the Defence Budget had to be increased exponentially every year,and heaven knows where that might have led to...more money on education and health possibly,and that would never do. What a litany of magic names "Ring of spies" brings to mind.Vassal the Admiralty clerk blackmailed because of his homosexuality,Col.Ivanov the Russian spy who shared a mistress with an English Cabinet Minister,Anthony Blunt,Keeper of the Queen's pictures,those nice Krogers,Gordon Lonsdale, Harry Houghton and Bunty Gee.....traitors obsessed with sex or money or both.How many deaths were caused by their treachery? Houghton and Gee are the focal points of this film.She apparently a lonely and repressed spinster,he a bitter failure with a grudge against his employers.It's good to see Mr Bernard Lee stretch himself out of his usual "nice kind bloke" comfort zone and play a rather repellent character who draws the unfortunate Miss Gee into a honey trap. Miss Margaret Tyzack makes Miss Gee sympathetic if dim.Mr William Sylvester,a great favourite in the British "B" movie pantheon is equally good as Gordon Lonsdale.The mouse-like Krogers ran the spy ring from their bungalow in Ruislip.But for their duplicity and ruthlessness they could almost belong in an Ealing comedy. Mr Robert Tronson was borrowed from TV to direct and did a very fine job,there is hardly an extraneous scene and the film is very sharply put together.This was the time when some British second features were made with more care and attention than the "big" movies they preceded.They provided gainful employment for actors and technicians who would otherwise be resting between American gigs.Regular moviegoers of the time developed a real affection for the actors who regularly turned up in them,a sussurus of suppressed delight going through the audience at the appearance of a particular favourite.Many of us mourned their demise."Ring of Spies" is a fine example of a sadly-missed genre.

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