Thursday, May 1, 2014

Kim Philby: New BBC Four Documentary

If you recognize the name "Kim Philby" as one of the most infamous spies of the 20th Century then you may want to watch this recent BBC Four documentary about him.

While it surveys Philby's entire career, a primary focus is on his little-discussed time in exile in Beruit (having resigned from MI6 under a cloud) from 1956 until his sensational defection to Moscow in 1963.  This absorbing  program features interviews with many contemporaries who knew Philby personally (now at the end of their own lives), as well as the aging authors of the most prominent books ever written about Philby, including Philip Knightly (who describes the circumstances of his unique interviews with Philby in Moscow).

Even if you've never heard the name "Kim Philby," you may also enjoy this as a portrait of a time when a falling-down-drunk alcoholic with a pronounced stutter (from the right school and family, of course), could drink, philander, lie, and betray his way through a charmed life in the British secret service. At least for a while.

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