The Excellent Eighties: Blunt, aka The Fourth Man (1987)

Here’s another Mill Creeker that Sam, the boss at B&S, and myself never heard of and would have passed on — if not for it being on a Mill Creek box set. And you probably never heard of it either, as it is a British TV movie, part of the 165-episode run of BBC-TV’s 1985 – 2002 series Screen Two. According to the digital content managers at the IMDb, the Screen Two project was the brainchild of producer Kenith Trodd, who headed a team to create a programming block for the BBC to compete with Channel Four’s efforts in making movies for television and theatrical release. The series plan was to break the BBC away from their studio-made stage play format (know your old PBS-TV rebroadcasts of Doctor Who) to create “live,” non-stage programming. Known as The Fourth Man during its TV run, it carried the title of Blunt for its VHS and overseas theatrical releases.

Of course, it helps that we have Sir Anthony Hopkins heading the cast to inspire us to sit down and review the title for our Mill Creek blowout of their 50-film Excellent Eighties box set.

So, what’s it all about?

VHS image courtesy of ijcm3/eBay.

Hopkins is Blunt, Anthony Blunt (bad Bond joke), a British art historian and professor who became the infamous “fourth man” in the Cambridge Five, a notorious group of spies comprised of rogue MI5 agents (Britain’s CIA equivalent) working for the Soviet Union from the 1930s up through the early 1950s. Once a Sir of the Royal Victorian Knighthood, Blunt was stripped of the honor in 1979 when his activities came to public light.

While the production values exceed the TV stage play-style they were attempting to update, this is — even with Hopkins to hold our interest — still pretty dry and pretty boring and the production values really haven’t improved much: this isn’t an action drama, but (still) a stagey, psychological drama that attempts to get inside the heads of the men and asks “why” Blunt did it. While Blunt and the Cambridge Five’s exploits are certainly intriguing and appealing to spy aficionados, the way this story is told, it just isn’t as engaging as the exploits of Ashaf Marwan, an Egyptian billionaire who worked for Mossad, the State of Israel’s intelligence agency to became the world’s first true “super spy” during the 1973 Yom Kippur War/Arab-Israeli War. His exploits are chronicled in the much better spy film The Angel (2018) and its accompanying documentary, The Spy Who Fell to Earth (2018).

You can watch Blunt: The Fourth Man on Tubi as a free-with-ads stream.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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