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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Spy Who Tagged Me

The Spy Who Never Was on IMDb

Plot Overview

star of Davidpencilold men playing
chessIn this pseudo-documentary an Arab terrorist cell targets one of their own, Amir (Youseff Farrah) in Jerusalem, for having betrayed their cause—he'd joined the bourgeoisie—but they kill his daughter by mistake. Inspector Barkan (Jason Robards) an inveterate chess player sets up a sting to entrap the terrorists. Israeli Intelligence baits them with a putative German agent Baruch Herzog whom they invent out of whole cloth. He's reported to be en route to Hamburg with his destination hotel scrawled on a card on a counter in the airport lobby. The Israelis are secretly watching the Arabs who are discretely observing the card.

harlotIn the busy concourse it catches the eye of corporate lawyer Arthur Hersfeld (Hardy Krüger) who being short of stature, used to perusing documents, and having a similar name momentarily checks it out. The Arabs conclude he's Herzog. Arab journalist Amina (Gila Almagor) being more dedicated than her brother Amir (“She writes with a machine gun, not a type­writer”) contrives to give Arthur a lift to his hotel. She is part of the assassin hit squad. But he is not going to the hotel and she loses him.

sunflowersloverssecretary and bossHersfeld has his business partner Martin (Michael Hinz) trace the girl's license number and his secretary send her flowers. When she comes looking for him, he proceeds to woo her. Although he is half Jewish—on his father's side—they hit it off to the degree of him singing an Arabian song she taught him and her being uncharacter­istically happy. It's like a surprise encounter in a Paul Wellman novel:

Church windows.

A wail of voices. High-pitched women's voices:

And he walks with me And he talks with me And he tells me I am his own; And the joys we share As we tarry there No mortal has ever known …

Church hymn at prayer meeting. Why, thought Dave, with a curious surprise, it's a love song. A woman is telling of her lover. …

The shrill voices ached. … Odd for such a song to be disguised as a hymn. Or was it odd? Human hunger, seeking to trans­late the ineffable into terms of experience … the ache in the women's voices seemed suddenly a confession.

… joys we share … no mortal has ever known …

smileBut they are mortal, he said to himself, and they feel cheated. Because they do not know the joys they sing, in the sere drabness of their mortal existence. He half-smiled in sympathy for the women who hide their disap­point­ments over the manifold imper­fections of life, and show them so rarely in such unconsciously pathetic ways. (2)

photographerThe couple are, unfortunately, still under surveillance. The terrorist cell holds Amina accountable for her compromise (“There is no out­side life when you are with us.”) Her relation with her brother is strained. And her lawyer-lover has no spy training to prepare him for the likes of her.


It's up for grabs how this romantic adventure will turn out, but that's nothing new. (Prov. 30:18-19) “There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” The writer of this proverb juxtaposed three hard-to-track move­ments with romantic intrigues: a soaring eagle, a slithering snake, and a tossed-about ship. TSWNW employs images from the same three venues to prepare the viewer for unantici­pated love machi­nations. “The way of an eagle in the air” corresponds to the picture on the wall of Barbara the airline stewardess, ex-wife of grass widower Arthur who can only guess where her schedule has hew now. She's very hand­some and poised. There would have been lots of competition for her. For Arthur to have won her for a time makes him a player. Also being raised by his mother likely contributed to his under­standing of women.

“The way of a serpent upon a rock” corresponds to Arthur's german shepherd Bruno (“my family”) who tears off around the yard to investigate some mischief. The place is oozing with spies tripping over one another.

“The way of a ship in the midst of the sea” corresponds to that card at the airport, afloat in a sea of people, and who knows who will cast it a glance?

Production Values

” (1976) was directed by Reza Badiyi and Uri Massad. It was written by Carjen Alexis and Paul Hengge. It stars Hardy Krüger, Jason Robards and Gila Almagor. The acting was decent.

It was rated PG. It does contain some implied sex and partial nudity (of Gila Almagor.) There were no f-bombs and in the 1½ hour version I saw, there was but one mundane curse word sh!t spoken by Halil (David El-Harrar) in an appropriate place. The Arabs were very angry but their language was clean. The Jews were a disap­pointment, the lawyer cursing once with God's name and the inspector twice.

The camera work was substandard. Dutch angles were employed to advantage, but the sunlit scenes were washed out. Other­wise, the editing was good and the slow, dramatic buildup effective. A narrator's voice at the beginning and end gave it the feel of a documentary, but with spies who knows? Running time is listed as 1 hour 53 minutes, but my copy under the title “The Death Merchants” was a bit shorter.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

crucifiedOne monument to the crucifixion of Christ was shown in Jerusalem, so I count this film as Christian-friendly though a long way from faith-based. Terrorists and spies live seedy lives, not to mention lawyers, so we won't be inspired by unmitigated virtue. It's a worth­while drama, how­ever, but don't expect a happy ending.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Well, at least you can't see the strings. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769, 1873. Print. Software.

Wellman, Paul I. The Walls of Jericho. Copyright © 1947 by Paul I. Wellman. Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott Company. Print.