This rigorous, compelling, radically stylized film represents the end point in a line of development that Otto Preminger had been pursuing since the late 60s. The prime qualities of Preminger’s mise-en-scene—logic, dispassion, distance—here reach their apotheosis in a ruthlessly flat, unruffled presentation: a visual and narrative style carefully designed only to express its own inexpressiveness. Graham Greene’s impeccably plotted spy story serves Preminger’s personal aims with a minimum of modification, as the film develops themes of loneliness, debilitation, and obsessive security—all centered on the tragic survival of moral feeling in a world drained by reason. A difficult, intransigent work, it doubles Preminger’s usual demands on the spectator’s powers of perception and interpretation (1979).