audience Reviews, 86% Audience Score
- Rating: 3.5 out of 5 starsThis is a very nuanced documentary that is for those who want to hear every side of the story and who are everlastingly searching for the truth. Manhattan Project physicist and Soviet Union spy Theodore Hall is the focus of this feature by legendary documentarian Steve James. Hall's wife, Joan had video footage of her husband just before he passed in 1999. It appears the filmmaker and his wife are attempting to give him a pass for what he did. The bottom line is Hall gave up nuclear secrets to Joseph Stalin and that will always be hard to justify until the end of time which appears closer every passing day. It is a fascinating take and a very interesting issue to parse. Final Score: 7.8/10
- Rating: 0.5 out of 5 starsWritten/directed from the perspective of communist oppressor sympathizers. This film is pure propaganda. I recommend viewers read the Gulag Archipelago, a Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, etc. All of what's going on right now (including this propaganda film) is straight out of the Marxist and Maoist Cultural Devolution playbook to break down society, just like was done in China during Mao's Cultural Devolution with the "Red Guards" and "Struggle Sessions" and countless other Marxist/communist revolutions that led to millions murdered, and oppression for decades. History bears out time and time again that the results of Marxist ideology are absolutely devastating to society and individuals).
- Rating: 5 out of 5 starsGreat documentary on a great man especially during this tumultuous period with the United States already having started a proxy war against Russia going on for over a year and with the US provocations for this war starting almost 10 years ago! Despite that the documentary did not single out the aspect of the Soviet "arms catch-up" throughout the entire Cold War that Michael Parenti talked about, despite my strong disagreements with Boria Sax and Joan Hall about those disproven unsubstantiated claims smearing the Soviet Union, what Ted Hall and Saville Sax did was important for global security and what they did saved the world. My points being that the US would start every nuclear production escalation including with US ICMBs in Turkey and Italy that started the Cuban Missile Crisis which is important to educate people about, as opposed to any ridiculous notion pushed in the Western world that the US and Soviet Union were equally guilty when it came to nuclear proliferation. Both major unsubstantiated claims smearing the Soviet Union to maybe to the greatest effect were refuted in declassified documents in the late 1980s and public record since 1968 that was even highlighted by CPUSA leader Gus Hall right after the event. President Harry Truman used to be in the KKK and did everything he could do antagonize the progressive Soviet Union, dropping nuclear bombs on civilian cities to threaten the USSR. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt considered the Soviets to be essential allies and FDR got along with Joseph Stalin much more than the Benito Mussolini-lover Winston Churchill. Even before the US entered WWII, at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941, then Senator Truman infamously said "If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and that way let them kill as many as possible..." which was the exact position that Winston Churchill had. You have to wonder how FDR died at the critical moment that he did in 1945 shortly before the war ended. Now we know that not just 20 million, but 27 million Soviets died in WWII, fighting up to 80% of the Nazi army. With those important facts being emphasized, this documentary is a must-watch. If you understand why Ted Hall and Saville Sax did what they did, then you are serious about wanting peace and understand who the real threat to peace is and was. If you do not understand why Ted Hall and Saville Sax did what they did and at worst, denounce their legacy for it, then you do not seriously want peace and you do not understand who the real threat to peace is and was. The real threats to peace in the world since Ted Hall and Saville Sax were born were the capitalist elites who have all the power in the Western world such as the Rockefellers, Carnegies, DuPonts, Vanderbilts, etc. It is Wall Street and the London Stock Exchange vs. the world.
- Rating: 5 out of 5 starsAn absolute must see documentary on the atomic bomb and a couple of families involved!
- Rating: 3 out of 5 starsIt's good but completely unfocused on the main story and the climactic ending, non existent. Fairly informative documentary though.
- Rating: 3.5 out of 5 starsMOVIE REVIEW A Compassionate Spy – Genre: Documentary Year Released: 2023 Runtime: 1h 41m Director(s): Steve James Writer(s): Steve James Featuring: Ted Hall, Joan Hall, Ruth London, Sara Hall, Sarah Sax, Boria Sax, Joseph Albright, Marcia Kunstel, Daniel Axelrod Where To Watch: available now here www.magpictures.com RAVING REVIEW: A COMPASSIONATE SPY, a documentary that explores a vibrant mix of romance, ethical dilemmas, historical drama, and even a dash of espionage. Director Steve James doesn't just illuminate history; he turns it into a living, breathing, and touching human story. When we meet Ted Hall, the young physicist prodigy, we're not introduced to a stereotypical scientist but a youthful mind torn by moral decisions. Recruited at 18 for the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II, he's tasked with creating something groundbreaking – the atomic bomb. But what should have been his crowning achievement turns into a paralyzing fear, making this scientist a reluctant hero or villain, depending on your perspective. James takes us through Hall's decision to share essential intelligence with the Soviet Union, a real-world twist worthy of a thriller. However, he doesn't stop there. A COMPASSIONATE SPY weaves in a romantic subplot, following Hall's heartfelt connection with Joan, a fellow University of Chicago student. Their shared love for classical music and socialism leads to a 50-year marriage, which feels like a romance from Hollywood's golden era, not a documentary. Between this film, OPPENHEIMER, and THE ATOMIC CAFE, I feel as though I've gotten such a lesson on this period, these years that forever changed our world. Each film offers varied looks at some of these moments in time and made remarkable crossovers with each other. What sets this film apart is its ability to resonate with regular viewers, not just history buffs. It paints a vivid picture of a man whose decisions had world-changing consequences. Hall's controversial actions might have tipped the balance of power, averting a nuclear catastrophe, but they also sparked a debate on loyalty and patriotism that continues to loom heavy today. Moreover, the film takes unexpected detours into broader global issues, like the U.S.-China nuclear arms race and climate change. While these topics are undoubtedly vital, they sometimes feel like an unnecessary subplot, diverting attention from the central narrative. Despite these minor hiccups, A COMPASSIONATE SPY offers an engaging viewing experience, transcending the documentary genre to provide a cinematic experience. It presents a captivating exploration of right and wrong, courage, and the indelible mark one individual can leave on history. The documentary's true strength lies in its delicate blend of grand historical events and intimate personal moments, crafting a narrative that appeals to the heart and mind alike. While some might critique the staged reconstructions as a deviation from pure documentary form, they add an element of intrigue, elevating A COMPASSIONATE SPY from a mere lesson to a dynamic and multifaceted exploration. A COMPASSIONATE SPY is more than a film about a physicist; it's a celebration of the human spirit, a thoughtful narrative that educates and entertains simultaneously. Whether a history enthusiast or just someone looking for an engaging watch, this film invites you to reflect on ethics, courage, and the profound impact an individual can have on the global stage. It's a ticket worth buying, a story worth experiencing, and a moment in time brought to life with flair and emotion. For more reviews, please visit – https://linktr.ee/Overlyhonestmoviereviews for more info. Follow me on Letterboxd, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Find my social media accounts on most platforms simply by searching Overly Honest Movie Reviews. I'm always happy to hear from my readers; please say hi or send me any questions about movies. MY SAG-AFTRA/WGA STRIKE STATEMENT: As an advocate for creators, actors, and writers, I firmly stand with SAG-AFTRA and the WGA in their current strike. The entertainment industry is built on these individuals' extraordinary talents, and their contributions must be appropriately recognized and rewarded. They deserve fair compensation, sensible work hours, and respect for their creative rights. I believe in the power of unity and collective action, and I'm steadfast in my support for their fight for better working conditions and fair remuneration. Together, we can shape a more equitable future in the entertainment world. #SAGAFTRA #WGA #SAGAFTRAStrong #WGAStrong
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5 starsA fascinating documentary. The re-enactments are unexceptional, but the interviews with Hall and especially with his wife Joan are riveting, telling, and chilling. That myopic and naiive college -age kids could be duped into passing bomb secrets to the Soviets is one thing, but that half a century later intelligent, cosmopolitan, and well-educated seniors could look back on this, in possession of full 20th century history, and still think they did the right thing is nothing short of amazing. Enormous self-deception and self-justification is evident in both sets of interviews. Some small cracks of doubt appear in the interviews with Hall, but his wife remains a resolute, commited, and unrepentant communist from start to finish. An amazing, horrifying, and cautionary tale.