O Canada Blogathon: The Cold War in Canada – The Iron Curtain (1948)


I’ve been a lifelong fan of the spy genre. While family and friends were reading books like the Lord of the Rings, I was reading books like The Bourne Identity (which is *nothing* like the movie). I also have a love of my hometown, Ottawa.  Though Ottawa has a reputation today of being a quiet and sedate town for the most part, it was a different story 50 years ago. During World War II, Ottawa shared in the Allied war effort, and established itself as a staunch friend to both the British and the US. Ottawa was represented in the Hollywood war effort as well, featured prominently in the 1942 James Cagney film Captains of the Clouds.  The year after Captains was released, a cipher clerk arrived in Ottawa to begin a career at the Russian Embassy. His name was Igor Gouzenko, and his story would fundamentally change the world.

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For those not familiar with his story, Igor Gouzenko was a clerk in the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa from 1943-1945. During the final years of the war, he had access to all the top secret information coming out of the Embassy. This included information that the Soviets had no reason to know, which was evidence of a massive Soviet spy ring operating in Canada.  By 1945, the Soviets were ready to call Gouzenko and his family back to Moscow, but Igor wasn’t willing to go. Instead, he walked out of the Embassy one evening with documentation of the spy ring, and went off to find someone to tell his story to. Unbelievably, he couldn’t find anyone initially interested in his story, and he spent most of his time playing cat and mouse with Soviet security agents, who had by now become aware of the missing documents and were actively searching for him. This would eventually result in a confrontation between Soviet agents and the Ottawa police, when the Soviets were found looking through Gouzenko’s home. By the next day, Gouzenko was telling his story to the RCMP, and later MI5 and the FBI. As a result, the potential for Soviet spies working in the West became a major source of concern, and the rooting out of such spies a tip priority in all areas of Western society. Gouzenko and his family were given asylum by the Canadian government, and spent the rest of their lives in witness protection.


I’ve known about Gouzenko’s story since I was a teenager, but I had no idea that his story had ever been told on film. Then, back in 2012, I discovered that there was going to be a showing of a film called The Iron Curtain, filmed in 1948, which told Gouzenko’s story.  The film was directed by William A. Wellman, known for films such as The Public Enemy (1931), A Star is Born (1937), and The Ox-Bow Incident (1943). The film stars Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney in their third of five movies together, and their first movie together since the classic noir Laura (1944). Andrews played Igor Gouzenko, and Gene Tierney his wife. The film, to my delight, was actually shot in Ottawa, and not on Hollywood soundstages (or at least, had extensive Ottawa filming).


As Igor Gouzenko, Dana Andrews plays it very quiet and straightforward; he starts the film as a man who has come to Ottawa to do his job, and obeys the rules set down by Soviet security. It’s only after his wife joins him in Ottawa that he starts to question life under Soviet rule.  Andrews and Tierney work very well together, and there are some very tense moments after the defection that comes across very well. They successfully establish the panic that must have been going through their minds when they realize that protection and help from the Canadians aren’t coming immediately. I also loved seeing the glimpse of Ottawa as it was back then, recognizing various snow-covered landmarks.  It is a very straightforward retelling of one of the key moments in Canadian history.

 A quick little postscript for this blogpost: it turns out that, while this is the first movie to focus on Igor Gouzenko’s defection (that I know of), it is not, in fact, the only movie made about Igor Gouzenko. In 1954, United Artists released Operation Manhunt, which also told the Gouzenko story. By all accounts, its focus was more on the Soviet response to Gouzenko’s defection, with assassins sent to Canada to murder him. It is, unfortunately, a film I’ve never seen, so I can’t give any great details about it. But if I ever get the chance to see the entire film, I certainly will. The Gouzenko Affair was such a crucial moment for Canada in world history, and deserves to be told again and again.


Spectre Opening Remixed w/ Lana Del Rey

Spectre Opening Remixed w/ Lana Del Rey

lana del rey spectre

Let us never speak of that other Spectre song ever again. Never. I’m not joking. That that guy was chosen over Lana Del Rey’s “24” is one of the great crimes against humanity. I’m only slightly exaggerating. This is a Bond song. This could have been one of the great Bond songs. Lana Del Rey’s vocals on “24” remind of Nancy Sinatra’s in “You Only Live Twice” but Lana doesn’t need the lush string orchestration to bail her out of the tough bits. Fan of #Bond_age_, James Tracey has kindly placed Lana Del Rey in her rightful place over the Spectre title credits. And for that we thank him.

Spectre Opening Remixed with Lana Del Rey

Spectre Titles w/ “24” BY Lana Del Rey from James Tracey on Vimeo.

You Only Live Twice Opening Remixed w/ Pizzicato Five

You Only Live Twice Opening Remixed w/ Pizzicato Five

pizzicato five

Love erupts and cultures clash in this hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy about two boys and two girls lost in the Orient. Sean Connery is James, a dashing mild-mannered British importer/exporter who meets cute as a button Japanese tourist Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama), and embarks on a whiz bang romance. Now, on their way to meet Kissy’s large family back home in Japan, the pair is accompanied by James’ bumbling ugly ducking Oxford pal Ernst (Donald Pleasance) and Kissy’s traveling companion Aki. Can the quartet find happiness? Will James and Kissy tie the knot? And what’s the true story behind Ernst’s scar? The only certainty in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is soy-flavored fun!


You Only Live Twice Opening Remixed w/ Pizzicato Five

You Only Live Twice Opening remixed w/ Pizzicato Five from James Patrick on Vimeo.

#Bond_age_ Bond Theme Rankings

#Bond_age_ Bond Theme Rankings


#Bond_age_ Licence to List: Bond Theme Rankings

As an introduction to the next series of Bond posts leading up to the release of SPECTRE, the #Bond_age_ powers have come together with a cumulative rank of their favorite Bond theme songs. And yes we’re piggybacking on the release today of Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall.” This list includes vocal tracks only. So while Matt Munro’s “From Russia With Love” did not open From Russia With Love, it was still the title track. Meanwhile, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” does not count (because it is an instrumental) and likewise for Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All the Time in the World” because it is not the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service theme. That leaves 21 vocal theme tracks. We will not dare to rank the new Sam Smith track until we’ve heard it the context of the film. We don’t want to jump to any conclusions (Jay, excepted perhaps. He’s planning pickets and gathering pitchforks).

For our next list, you, the reader/Twatterer/#Bond_age_ junkie can suggest a topic and submit your own list. You will then choose your opponent (either Jay, Krissy or Greg) to a List Off, Iron Chef style (Iron #Bond_age_, eh?). Everyone else will choose a winner, mock our choices or cause general havoc down there in the comments of the page. With all that logistical nonsense out of the way (where’s Moneypenny?), here’s our ranking of the 21 Bond themes, highest ranked to lowest because we don’t believe in that delayed gratification anyway. Hand out the big awards first and then hang around for the snark about Sheryl Crow.

Ready? Let’s take a sonic journey through 50 years of Bond. (more…)

Tournament of #Bond_age_ Tweets Winner!


And now, after months of voting, #Bond_age_ announces the TOURNAMENT OF #BOND_AGE_ TWEETS winner!!!


Enthusiastic Kermit animation


Winning by the slim margin of two votes, @TravisSMcClain has taken the top prize with his riff on the Identigraph in For Your Eyes Only.


If you see Travis around in the Twatterverse commend him for a Tweet well Twattered. Many fabulous prizes are most surely on their way to his doorstep. I can’t say what they are because that would just spoil the surprise. But they’re amazing, trust me.


Here’s the full, final Tournament bracket:


Tournament of #Bond_age_ Tweets Finals!

We’ve reached the FINALS! for the Tournament of #Bond_age_ Tweets. This is the goldest twatter the twatterers done twattered. Choose… wisely. The winner wins pride, satisfaction and all sorts of bragging rights.

Also, my apologies for the delay in progressing this contest. When the website crashed some months ago, I neglected to advance the contest. I’m back on track now. 





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