Saturday, December 17, 2016

Movies In History: The Company

Coincidentally I've been reading a lot about espionage recently so it was timely when I saw that this entire mini series was being run back to back on television the other day.  I'd seen part of it before, but I'd never had the chance to see the entire series.

This series is an examination of the Central Intelligence Agency from its founding in the wake of the wartime Office of Strategic Services up until the 1990s.  It tracks the major events of the 40s, 50s, 60s, and on into the 70s in the context of one of the central characters manic devotion to revealing a mole inside the CIA.

If that sounds far fetched, many of the main characters in the series, which is based upon a book by the same name, are based on real characters and the manically devoted character, James Angleton, was in fact a real individual within the CIA who was in fact fully convinced that there was a mole inside the organization, which is referred to as "The Company" by people within it.  While I know little about the real Angleton, his portray as an unpopular, chain smoking, singularly minded and fanatic CIA agent appears to be quite correct. 

Leaping back and forth from field operations to the drama inside the CIA, the plot involves real events such as the 1958 Hungarian uprising and the Bay of Pigs invasion and weaves it with the story of a possible mole.  The story also leaps back in time to the 1930s when several of the central characters are in Yale University. 

The story is very well developed and fascinating.  The plot is, if anything, subdued in the context of what we now actually know about Soviet penetration of the US government in the 1930s and 1940s, including the OSS, although there is no actual evidence that CIA was ever penetrated by the Soviets.

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