Quentin Tarantino gave an interview to Sight & Sound Magazine recently and revealed that following in the footsteps of James Bond and Jason Bourne, he may one day turn the protagonist of another Cold War espionage novel series into a household name – Bernard Samson.
Samson is the protagonist of three novel trilogies of acclaimed author Len Deighton, the first and most famous being the ‘Game, Set & Match’ trilogy which is the property Tarantino is considering developing – “I’d like to make a spy movie…One of the books that I’m reading right now is Len Deighton’s Berlin Game, part of the ‘Game, Set and Match’ trilogy. So I’m reading Berlin Game. I actually read it before years ago and I didn’t properly get into Mexico Set, and now I have to read them all over again.”
He also has some ambitious plans for the book series – “I would see if I could boil it down to the fat of the characters, and ignore all this Maquis double agent stuff. It would be interesting if I could reduce the three novels to an hour each and make a three hour movie that would have a big kind of impact, just by responding to the characters, and the wonderful chance of casting actors in it, and the nice environment of the drawing room and the cottages in this part of East Berlin, with the Wall still there and everything.”
The original 1983 novel ‘Berlin Game’ deals with MI6 officer Samson who’s been ordered to rescue Brahms Four, Britain’s top undercover agent in Eastern Europe who’s suddenly demanding safe passage out. The assignment comes as somewhat ironic considering that Brahms Four came to his rescue nearly two decades before when he was stationed behind the Iron Curtain. Before he sets out though, he comes across evidence of a KGB mole somewhere in MI6 close to him – not helped by the fact that his colleagues barely trust him and his wife may be cheating on him.
The two later novels dealt with Samson trying to recruit his Soviet opposite number and confronting the traitor as the KGB’s inroads into British intelligence’s highest offices are exposed. Ian Holm (“The Fifth Element,” “The Lord of the Rings”) starred as Samson in a 1988 twelve-episode TV series adaptation of the trilogy and received a BAFTA award nomination for his work. Deighton’s most famous character creation, Harry Palmer, was the protagonist of four books and was portrayed three times on film by Michael Caine – most famously in “The Ipcress File” and “Funeral in Berlin” in the mid-60’s.
As for Tarantino’s WW2 ensemble drama “Inglorious Bastards”, he says “I’ve got tons of material and a lot of stuff written but now I’ve figured out what to do, I gotta start from page one, square one. I started just before I came on this trip and brought the stuff with me but I haven’t had a chance to continue yet. But maybe on the flight back home I’ll come back into it. I love writing in other countries. It’s a lot of fun.”