Eye of the Needle



Good vs. evil is the undercurrent of Eye of the Needle (1981, rated R, 112 minutes) but the drama is in the living and the dying of the fully believable characters: Donald Sutherland as the WWII German spy—“die Nadel”—and Kate Nelligan as Lucy, who becomes his nemesis.

A worldly viewer can easily guess the ending of this movie, so it’s not really a spoiler to say that Sutherland, the brutal German spy, has the Allies’ Normandy invasion plans and is trying to get them to Germany when he is shipwrecked on a remote island off Scotland. Lucy, a patriotic English woman who is the wife of a sheep farmer on the island, falls in love with die Nadel before she figures out what he is and kills him.

Die Nadel is desperate, but human. Lucy is lonely, but ultimately she rages to do the right thing. The brief seduction scene is a lover’s delight (brief nudity). The awkward interaction of the two reluctant lovers is credible. The violence is matter-of-fact and vicious.

Eye of the Needle works as a war story, a spy story, and a love story. It won’t put you to sleep.


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Read or listen to Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett, the novel on which this movie is based


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