November 08, 2011



Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon. Thanks a lot pal! Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon


Garbo-the-spyAfter rattling around film festivals for a couple of years Edmon Roch's wildly entertaining documentary thriller is finally enjoying its overdue theatrical release. It's the kind of juicy documentary where the less you know about it going in, the more you'll enjoy it.

So, if you have any inkling to see a super fun documentary about an ingenious World War II double-agent then stop reading this review now and get thee to the cinema. You will not be disappointed.

Film-Forward – Garbo: The Spy

Otherwise, here we go. Juan Pujol Garcia is a rare person with so many layers of intellect that he fooled the Germans and the Brits into both hiring him to work as a counterspy for them. It's a good thing Garcia's actual loyalties came down on the side of the Allies. Born in Spain, Garcia spent several years of his youth hiding out during the Spanish Civil War evading Franco's version of fascism. By 1940 the Catalan native made his way to London and offered the MI5 his services in spite of the fact he could barely speak a word of English. Repeatedly rejected, Garcia took his game to the Nazis who hired him to spy for them believing he was working out of Lisbon, when in fact he never left London.

GarboHe finally secured a position with MI5 writing disinformation to feed to the Nazis. He was given the codename "Garbo" by the Brits, but went under the codename "Arabel" to the Germans. Garcia created an imaginary team of 27 secret agents with fully fleshed-out identities to support his daily transmissions to the Germans. His prose was so detailed and passionate there was never a doubt of the veracity of the information. When the Allies prepared the build-up toward D-Day, Garcia precisely manipulated a diversionary feint set the Pas de Calais region north of Normandy to distract German military attention away from the point of the actual invasion.

D-Day: Is joint commemoration possible? | World| Breaking news and  perspectives from around the globe | DW | 05.06.2019

Novelist, historian, and Intelligence expert Nigel West supplies fascinating straight-to-camera details about his arduous efforts to discover Garcia's real identity and to track him down in person. Spanish spy Aline Griffith adds an aspect of glamour during her articulate interview sequences. Roch weaves in movie clips from films like “Mr Moto’s Last Warning,” "The Longest Day," and "Mata Hari" to contextualize the material with humor and cinematic style. Evocative music from Brian Eno and Sparklehorse adds an aural layer of intrigue to the rollicking filmic investigation.

“Garbo: the Spy has a lilting tone of cat-and-mouse in its construction. You just might want to see it twice.

Not Rated. 86 mins.

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“

Cozy Cole

Cole Smithey on Patreon


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos



Throwback Thursday

Podcast Series