It is not often that cinema can do justice to a great novel. This one brings out the existential questions of the lead character Yakov Blok in an honest manner, true to the original. I think I would place the credit more with screenplaywriter Dalton Trumbo for this effort. He did not even change some of the key lines of the book. I wonder what Malamud would have thought of the script.
Frankenheimer needs praise in some sequences, the prison sequences and the seduction sequence--but what amuses me no end is why he chose to cast the three actresses who speak their lines with no care for even a semblance of being East European.
Alan Bates, Dirk Bogarde, Hugh Griffith, David Warner and Ian Holm are all good actors but Frankenheimer made no effort to make them speak like Russians or East Europeans. Bogarde is predictable in his role, but Alan Bates carried the film. He alone played his role with conviction. Maurice Jarre's music was good but not his best.
Like "Gandhi" this film will be remembered because of the subject, not because of its cinema. The true hero was not Bates, not Trumbo, not Frankenheimer--it was Malamud!
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