If you have read all or many of Alan Furst‘s exquisite novels of European WWII espionage, The Spies of Warsaw might not be the one that comes to mind as the first you would choose as a foundational text for a film. On the other hand, an obvious point that obtains here, good books don’t necessarily make for good movies (and so on).
I suppose after all, one should be pleased that finally someone has chosen any one of Furst’s dozen novels— in this case our benfactor is the BBC (shown in 2 parts, April 3 and April 10.) Furst fans should be thankful. I say this because though I suppose American filmmakers could probably have done a fair job, it did not hurt whole tone of the BBC’s production of The Spies of Warsaw that their view of WWII is a less likely to be romanticized the way some one like Speilberg would do. In The Spies a French intelligence officer who had served in the War to End all Wars is posted to his country’s Warsaw embassy in 1937. His view and attitude as well as everyone of that generation, present in this narrative had witnessed and processed enough of the horrors of 2 continents engaged in senseless and bloodthirsty combat to work diligently to avoid further blood shed and slaughter. Historically Americans did not seem to exhibit such post belligerence depression or showed much evidence they were afflicted by the world weariness so evident with the Brits and Europeans.At the end this taut drama , on Sept 1 1939,Anna Skarbek, the colonel’s lover asks Jean-Francois Mercier “What now?” Mercier responds,”We try to survive.”
Knowledgable fans of Furst will be amused at the appearance of the Parisian Heininger Brasserie, one of the author’s faux McGuffins where the anecdote about the assassination of the Bulgarin head waiter is mentioned (as it is every Furst novel)
Currently reading Mary Coin by Marisa Silver (Blue Rider Press)