Thursday, May 24, 2012

Film Review: Garbo: The Spy

Charles A. Smith

When you hear the name Garbo, it usually invokes images of beauty, as in the glamorous international movie icon Greta Garbo. There was an actor who also bore that name, however, his craft was not conducted on the stage or screen, but in the shadows of high espionage. Garbo: The Spy, from Director/Writer/Producer Edmon Roch, is a fascinating and exhilarating true account of the exploits of Juan Pujol Garcia (code name Garbo) and the role of double agent that he so adeptly played during World War II.

Feeding false information to the Nazis, with the help of his incredibly creative mind, he fabricated a network of agents who "reported" to him and supplied the Germans with false intel in most cases or disseminated more factual information that was timed in such a way that rendered it virtually useless. During this entire time, he developed relationships with both the Nazis and allies that made him a star player for both sides. Garbo received both the Iron Cross and Royal rights in England, making him the only man in history to receive the highest honor possible from opposing sides in a war. Has anyone surpassed his accomplishments? Well, of course, we'll never know that, but somehow, it seems highly unlikely.

Garbo's clever web of fictitious agents were sheer genius, as he played the role of multiple agents on the German side at one time, and did it alone. His astute ability at deceiving the Germans helped the Allied troops land at Normandy while the enemy awaited their arrival in vain at Calais. Hitler himself was even fooled by Garbo's false reports, and fell victim to the master spy's trickery.

The outtakes of real footage from the 1940's and black and white movies made about those times are extremely interesting, giving the viewer more than a glimpse of the past, transporting one back to those times.  This is one of the finest, most significant and extraordinary documentaries ever made. The historical value and intrigue are priceless. I could not possibly praise this film enough. This is a two thumbs up, must see documentary, made by a true visionary.

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