Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Eye of the Needle


Donald Sutherland is a Nazi spy who has been working in England four years. He is assigned to get a closer look at General Patton’s army and air force, assembling in Anglia for an invasion over the Pas de Calais. Only as all us WWII buffs know, Patton wasn’t leading anything because he slapped a soldier. What was happening out there in the fields was a deception. The planes were made of plywood and canvas. The tanks were actually inflatables. He finds this out, and now needs to get the information to his Führer, letting him know it’s all phony, and the real invasion is going to happen in Normandy. But he’s being chased, and is forced to steal a small boat in a storm. His radio is destroyed and he smashes on the barren shores of Storm Island. (Actually one of the Hebrides.)

Meanwhile, Kate Nelligan and her young son and husband have been living on the island four years, following a car accident when hubby was driving drunk and too fast on their wedding day. The smash-up cost him his legs, and he has become one of my least favorite cliché characters: the bitter cripple. She still loves him even though he treats her like shit and hasn’t touched her in all that time.

Kate and Don meet and romance follows. This is what sets this one a bit apart from your normal run of WWII spy movies. She’s lonely and ignored, he’s good-looking and seems to genuinely care for her. Of course, if he has to, he will kill her in order to fulfill his mission. He’s pretty smart, but makes one mistake that really couldn’t have been avoided, and she knows he’s not what he seems. And instead of confronting him with it, she instantly sees that what she must do is continue as if she were still ignorant of his real purpose. From then on, she does everything about as well as could be expected. Her only real mistake that I could see is that she starts firing her pistol from too far away, and misses several times. But poor Ian Bannen, who has spent the whole movie a few steps behind the Needle (he uses a switchblade stiletto to kill), will not be needed, even though he and the cavalry are on the way. Kate can handle him. Ken Follett is known for his spunky female characters, and this is one of his best.