(director/writer: Richard Marquand; screenwriters: based on the novel by Ken Follett, Stanley Mann; cinematographer: Alan Hume; editor: Sean Barton; music: Miklos Rozsa; cast: Donald Sutherland (Heinrich Faber), Stephen MacKenna (Lieutenant), Christopher Cazenove (Dave Rose), Kate Nelligan (Lucy Rose), George Belbin (Lucy’s father), Faith Brook (Lucy’s Mother), Philip Martin Brown (Billy Parkin), Ian Bannen (Godliman), Jonathan Nicholas Haley (4-year-old son), Alex McCrindle (Tom); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Stephen Friedman; MGM; 1981-UK)

“Tense war drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The Wales born filmmaker Richard Marquand (“Jagged Edge”/”Star Wars:Episode VI-The Return of the Jedi”) efficiently directs this tense war drama based on the best-seller spy novel by Ken Follett and co-written by Marquand and Stanley Mann.

In 1940, the ruthless Nazi spy, Heinrich Faber (Donald Sutherland, Canadian actor), poses as an Englishman as he operates out of a London boarding house, sending intel by radio back to his German superiors in Berlin. He’s gathering info about the Allies’ Operation Fortitude’s D-Day landing plans–which he learns are being faked to fool the Nazis.

His nickname is “The Needle,” as he uses a stiletto to kill those who get in his way.

On a small, remote Scottish island, there are only two families living on the barren island. One is a lighthouse keeper and the other is the family of the former RAF flyer Dave (Christopher Cazenove), an embittered sheepherder, who loses his legs in a car accident on his wedding day to Lucy (Kate Nelligan) and their marriage becomes doomed. The crippled hubby refuses to have sex with his wife and starts heavily drinking, as she loses her feelings for him.

But the couple manage to have a 4-year-old son (Jonathan Nicholas Haley), who is fully loved by both parents.

When the British intelligence close in on the spy, he flees by boat during a storm to meet a German submarine and gets shipwrecked on Storm Island, where he’s taken into Dave’s home. Thinking he’s a Brit sailor, they feed and shelter him. He takes advantage of the distant relationship of the young couple and has an affair with Lucy, and finds he might really love her.

When Lucy discovers he’s a spy things become tense, and it turns into a thriller where we know not everyone will survive as she chooses her allegiance to her country over this romance and must confront the dangerous spy after he’s killed her husband and the lighthouse keeper.