The Tamarind Seed

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During a Caribbean vacation, a British civil servant finds herself falling in love with a Russian Agent.

ACTORS :  Julie Andrews, Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle

YEAR OF RELEASE :  1974

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The Tamarind Seed  While on vacation in Barbados to recover from the lingering effects of a love affair that ended badly, Judith Farrow (Dame Julie Andrews) meets Feodor Sverdlov (Omar Sharif), a handsome Russian. They find pleasure in each other’s company as they visit colorful places on the island, but there are complications to their budding romance after their vacation in the tropical paradise comes to an end. Problems arise due to geopolitical concerns of the Cold War, for Judith is the assistant to an important minister serving in the British Home Office in London, and Feodor is the Soviet air attaché assigned in Paris to Soviet General Golitsyn (Oskar Homolka). British Intelligence Officer Jack Loder (Sir Anthony Quayle) suspects that Sverdlov is attempting to recruit Judith to work as a Soviet spy, and this is in fact what Feodor tells his boss that he is attempting to accomplish. Feodor tells Judith that this is a way for him to be able to see her without bringing about suspicion from his …

UNDERRATED SPY FILM, QUITE GOOD

The Tamarind Seed  Blake Edwards’ “The Tamarind Seed” falls into the “lost” category, more specifically the era spanning 1968-1974, when Edwards released a series of films, ranging from good to great, that died a bloody box-office death. That doesn’t mean that any of these films were bad. You can’t account for audience taste.

Anyway, “The Tamarind Seed” is a different film for Edwards: an international spy thriller. I think the reason for the film not being well received by the public was that Edwards was stereotyped as a comedy director. Indeed, many of his best films (“10”, “S.O.B.”, “Victor/Victoria”, and “The Pink Panther Strikes Again”) are in this genre. But during this period, Edwards made many fine straight films such as “Experiment in Terror”, “Darling Lili”, “Wild Rovers”, “The Carey Treatment” and “Gunn”. These films are lost today, thanks to clueless studio executives who didn’t know how to market them and the clueless moviegoers who stayed away in droves.

Lucky for us, cable TV still remains the forum to catch some of these lost treasures (except “Gunn” which seems lost forever) and AMC has been playing “The Tamarind Seed” frequently. Early video copies distributed by Magnetic Video and Embassy Home Entertainment still exist in used video stores around the country.

Now, about the film itself. Edwards has crafted a pretty skillful thriller here. Spy movies often die a quick death because most directors think they have to be either T&A fests or relentlessly talky. What makes the Bond films so much fun is that there’s a sly sense of humor and Edwards understands that. But Edwards maintains a smooth control over his material here and doesn’t play this material for monster laughs (rightly).This is a real good story, which I will not reveal, because the film’s success is dependent on Edwards’ surprises. The acting is great (with Julie Andrews and Omar Sharif in the lead roles, how could it be bad?), the cinematography (by the great Freddie Young in Panavision)is dazzling as it would be from that great talent, and the script gets involved enough in the story that we can follow it without getting confused.

“The Tamarind Seed” is very much worth the effort to find. Once you see it, it will be hard to forget it.

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