Watch Now: THE HUMAN FACTOR
After a prolific career that spanned more than five decades, two-time Academy Award-nominated director Otto Preminger retired from his filmmaking role with The Human Factor, a 1979 British neo-noir which he both made and produced. Based on Graham Greene’s 1978 espionage novel of the same name and with a screenplay written by playwright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard, Preminger’s swan song follows Maurice Castle (Nicol Williamson), an MI6 bureaucrat and husband to Sarah (Iman) who he met while on duty in apartheid South Africa. Upon the discovery of a leak in Castle’s department, security chief Daintry (Richard Attenborough) is tasked with finding the mole. But when Castle’s office partner Arthur Davis (Derek Jacobi) becomes the main suspect in the investigation, Castle finds himself questioning his choices.
The Human Factor is a subtle, dialogue-focused and slow-paced, yet extremely powerful piece of cinema, a superbly done exploration of the ways in which the state of international affairs during the Cold War affected the very real lives of complex individuals. But the making of the movie did not run smoothly. At a certain point during production, the director encountered budget problems, so he resorted to selling two Matisse paintings that he had in his possession, which enabled him to finish his last picture.