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Peter McKenna

The Movie "The Good Shephard"

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Seeing the movie "The Good Shephard", I was mindful of John LeCarre and his realistic accounts of Cold War Espionage. I know that this is not the substance of conspiracy, but I believe this movie deserves praise for its staunch depiction of the cold warrior in the early sixties and the stuff of which he was made.

Directed by Robert DeNiro, the movie offers, what may be the most realistic picture, of a Resident CIA Officer, Matt Damon, beginning from assignment as Resident in London during WWII, to case officer responsible for the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Matt Damon portrays an initially naive, coldly reserved, humorless, buttoned down Fraternity blue blood, drafted into pre-OSS Intelligence, who sacrifices all for the sake of his work, which is his country and the intelligence service.

The movie takes the audience from the polemic of WWII intelligence to the grey and liquid cold war, unveiling the duplicity and paranoia which feeds the services and its high priests, the residents, case officers, and handlers.

The realism is unparalleled. The picture is moralistically ambiguous, offered for the audience to decide for themselves whether there is a moral high ground, a right and wrong, in the protagonist's (Damon's) life and work. From the coldly calculating hawk to the most virulant leftist, the picture is neutral in its offering as a starkly real portait of the cold warrior for the eyes and mind to decide for themselves.

I found the movie fascinating and extremely realistic. Although not having the experience to critisize the realism, but from reading and research into cold war history, the movie appears the genuine article, and faithful to the times, possibly surpassing Mr. LeCarre in its realism. I highly recommend it.

I hope that this post is not taken as a degeneration into movie reviews. I felt that anyone who has read and researched this field would delight in this movie. It is not for everyone. I took my family, who found it boring for the most part, and couldn't understand the tradecraft. But for those who have reasearched and understand the history and tradecraft, the movie provides an object lesson into the psychological trauma which the services faced during the post WWII period and maybe an understanding of the distress they faced in their lives as a result of their decisions and actions.

If you are interested in cold war history and the history of the CIA this fim is a must see.

Thanks.

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Seeing the movie "The Good Shephard", I was mindful of John LeCarre and his realistic accounts of Cold War Espionage. I know that this is not the substance of conspiracy, but I believe this movie deserves praise for its staunch depiction of the cold warrior in the early sixties and the stuff of which he was made.

Directed by Robert DeNiro, the movie offers, what may be the most realistic picture, of a Resident CIA Officer, Matt Damon, beginning from assignment as Resident in London during WWII, to case officer responsible for the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Matt Damon portrays an initially naive, coldly reserved, humorless, buttoned down Fraternity blue blood, drafted into pre-OSS Intelligence, who sacrifices all for the sake of his work, which is his country and the intelligence service.

The movie takes the audience from the polemic of WWII intelligence to the grey and liquid cold war, unveiling the duplicity and paranoia which feeds the services and its high priests, the residents, case officers, and handlers.

The realism is unparalleled. The picture is moralistically ambiguous, offered for the audience to decide for themselves whether there is a moral high ground, a right and wrong, in the protagonist's (Damon's) life and work. From the coldly calculating hawk to the most virulant leftist, the picture is neutral in its offering as a starkly real portait of the cold warrior for the eyes and mind to decide for themselves.

I found the movie fascinating and extremely realistic. Although not having the experience to critisize the realism, but from reading and research into cold war history, the movie appears the genuine article, and faithful to the times, possibly surpassing Mr. LeCarre in its realism. I highly recommend it.

I hope that this post is not taken as a degeneration into movie reviews. I felt that anyone who has read and researched this field would delight in this movie. It is not for everyone. I took my family, who found it boring for the most part, and couldn't understand the tradecraft. But for those who have reasearched and understand the history and tradecraft, the movie provides an object lesson into the psychological trauma which the services faced during the post WWII period and maybe an understanding of the distress they faced in their lives as a result of their decisions and actions.

If you are interested in cold war history and the history of the CIA this fim is a must see.

Thanks.

Pete, Thanks for the "review" ! I was hoping to see it this weekend if possible, one way or another. Im glad you posted your thoughts on it. Movies like that, I seem to get "lost" in, but hopefully, I can follow the trail this time! lol! thanks-smitty

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I was a bit disappointed in the film. It captured some of the paranoia of Angleton and the corruption of the CIA in general, but was misleading on a number of points. While the film changed the names of its characters it also changed some important facts.

1. It insinuates that the Bay of Pigs failed due to a mole. This is complete hogwash that lets the CIA and Pentagon off the hook for their incredibly lame planning and execution.

2. It insinuates that Angleton forced out Dulles, with the help of the FBI. This covers up the cult of personality Dulles developed among his men, and the possible backlash against Kennedy for Dulles', Cabell's and Bissell's ouster.

3. It features the Skull and Bones and their sing-alongs, but ignores that one of the best singers among the Bonesman was a prominent Senator, a golfing buddy of Eisenhower's. Named Prescott Bush.

4. It has the credibility of a defector come into question when another defector comes along, and the Angleton character make the wrong choice when it comes to which one he should trust. But it hides that the credibility of this second defector fell into question because he said the Russians failed to have a hand in the assassination of Kennedy, and that the Angleton character always believed they did in fact play a role in Kennedy's death.

5. It has a character based on Kim Philby, who defects to Russia. But it fails to show how the Angleton character naively trusted this character, even after a grizzled former FBI man had him pegged as a traitor.

6. It has a major plotline take place in Leopoldville, Congo, but fails to note that the CIA was involved in the assassination of the president of that country.

7. It shows the Angleton character approach the mob about killing Castro. It would have been more honest to have the Helms character perform this function. It was in fact Richard Bissell and Sheffield Edwards through a middle man... and yet it ignores that it's quite possible this approach was a factor in the assassination of Kennedy. Perhaps this will be covered in a sequel...

In short, the movie has some nice characters and gives a nice over-view of the period, but pulls the chicken-switch time and time again in order to steer clear of controversy and make the Angleton character more sympathetic. Is it a coincidence that the film Bobby follows this same pattern?

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I was a bit disappointed in the film. It captured some of the paranoia of Angleton and the corruption of the CIA in general, but was misleading on a number of points. While the film changed the names of its characters it also changed some important facts.

1

Some very good points. I took the story line to be a fictionalized account of the CIA in its infancy. The Angleton character was definitely used to frame Damon's characterization. The "Dulles" character however, at least to me, was just a marginalized fictional character and did not represent Dulles, who was an adept compared to Angleton, in the late fifties early sixties (at least from reading Dulles' writings). How do you parallel the Billy Crudup character with Philby? The timing was approximately right, but Philby was the chief liason from MI6 to Washington. I didn't see this established in the movie. On point about the Castro conspiracy, I didn't give it a second thought in the movie.

I thought the defector business was a sort of aggregate of different characters, as there had been a few change ups on defector credibility through the sixties.

Overall, though, wouldn't you agree that there has really never been a movie, to date, that tried to capture the CIA mentality as well as The Good Shephard?

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I was a bit disappointed in the film. It captured some of the paranoia of Angleton and the corruption of the CIA in general, but was misleading on a number of points. While the film changed the names of its characters it also changed some important facts.

1

Some very good points. I took the story line to be a fictionalized account of the CIA in its infancy. The Angleton character was definitely used to frame Damon's characterization. The "Dulles" character however, at least to me, was just a marginalized fictional character and did not represent Dulles, who was an adept compared to Angleton, in the late fifties early sixties (at least from reading Dulles' writings). How do you parallel the Billy Crudup character with Philby? The timing was approximately right, but Philby was the chief liason from MI6 to Washington. I didn't see this established in the movie. On point about the Castro conspiracy, I didn't give it a second thought in the movie.

I thought the defector business was a sort of aggregate of different characters, as there had been a few change ups on defector credibility through the sixties.

Overall, though, wouldn't you agree that there has really never been a movie, to date, that tried to capture the CIA mentality as well as The Good Shephard?

The film has been hyped as the "Godfather of CIA movies" and it is actually quite appropriate. Mario Puzo based a lot of his story on real incidents and real people, but confused the issue by mixing incidents and characters. One assumes it was not safe for him to tell the real story. This film also blurs together fact and fiction. I just wonder why they chose to do so, when the main characters are all dead and a much more accurate story was possible.

The Crudup/Philby connection seemed a natural, as Philby was the Brit traitor with whom Angleton was the closest.

I highly recommend the film. I just felt it could have been even better if it stuck closer to the facts as we know them.

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I highly recommend the film. I just felt it could have been even better if it stuck closer to the facts as we know them.

I was also very disappointed by the film. I agree that the main problem was that it did not keep close enough to the facts. If they wanted to, they could make a great film about Angleton. I have read an excellent film script on Angleton and the death of Mary Pinchot Meyer. Unfortunately, the producer has been unable to raise the necessary funds.

The dramatized history of the CIA, 1947-1984 would make a great TV mini-series. All the information is in about 12 published books on the subject. If only TV companies had the courage to make it.

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I highly recommend the film. I just felt it could have been even better if it stuck closer to the facts as we know them.

I was also very disappointed by the film. I agree that the main problem was that it did not keep close enough to the facts. If they wanted to, they could make a great film about Angleton. I have read an excellent film script on Angleton and the death of Mary Pinchot Meyer. Unfortunately, the producer has been unable to raise the necessary funds.

The dramatized history of the CIA, 1947-1984 would make a great TV mini-series. All the information is in about 12 published books on the subject. If only TV companies had the courage to make it.

It has been a while since I watched the Good Shepherd.

Does it even portray the Kim Philby matter?

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It seems to me that this script fell prey to the editing hands of CIA, turning a potential thriller into a lame attempt at entertainment. Nothing of value is going to escape into the real world if they have anything to say about it. Especially anything that can be connected to JJA -- he was, of course, the architect of the JFK assassination, so everything about him must stay hushed and muddied.

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