Beloved Enemy was directed by Alan Clarke, written by David Leland, and inspired by Charles Levinson’s Vodka Cola*. Made in 1981, the film was made for the BBC’s “Play for Today” series and it speaks to cold war tensions of the era as much as it speaks to present economic stress and the continued growth of globalization.
Most of the movie consists of the two parties negotiating the terms of the deal. It sounds like a real bore, but Beloved Enemy is actually a gripping examination of the inner workings of international business deals. Leland’s screenplay and Clarke’s direction thrust the viewer into a world of jargon and coded meaning, making it both confusing and realistic. Both men believe the audience is smart enough and patient enough to listen for clues and determine exactly what is transpiring and the motives of each player. When it comes to light that the Soviets will not go through with the deal unless the corporation gives them access to laser technology that could also be used as a weapon the drama increases.
David Leland’s script creates a delicate balance between the edgy, but polite decorum of the board room and the hostility that erupts behind-the-scenes. Tony Doyle plays the bristly, hot-tempered Blake, who works for the British corporation. Steve Berkoff plays Koslov – the Soviet equal to Blake. In the back channels these two men expose the real motives of the people they work for, as well as their own motives.
Beloved Enemy is a solid 60 minutes of television and another good reason why the BBC really needs to put out a Play For Today dvd collection, even if it just includes Alan Clarke’s work for the series. Until the BBC sees the worth in such a set I fear the rest of the world will miss out amazing cinema that includes scenes like this one from Beloved Enemy.
Here, Blake (Tony Doyle) delivers a speech on the matter of globalization that rivals Ned Beatty’s “The World is a Business” speech from Network. Doyle’s performance is horrifying, perhaps because it feels so plausible. There certainly are people who see the world the way he does and treats others as he does. Many of them are running America.
*Prior to making Beloved Enemy, Clarke directed a documentary based on Vodka Cola. So, while I am checking off yet another Alan Clarke film from my must see list. I find myself adding another one. If you know how I can see it, let me know.