In my usual haste I missed last Tuesday’s announcement that the title of Steven Spielberg‘s fact-based spy drama is now Bridge of Spies (Disney/Touchstone, 10.16) and no longer St. James Place. The title refers to a famous bridge used by the Americans and Soviets for exchange of captured spies during the Cold War. Spielberg’s film is about the U-2 spy plane incident of May 1960 when CIA surveillance pilot Francis Gary Powers was shot down by the Soviets. Powers was sentenced to ten years in the slam but American lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) eventually negotiated his release. On 2.10.62 a Glienicke Bridge swap happened with Powers exchanged for Soviet spy Colonel Rudolf Abel.
Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg during filming of Bridge of Spies.
John Le Carre‘s Karla, the senior Soviet intelligence officer who was the prime antagonist of George Smiley, defected across the Glienicke bridge, which spanned between West Berlin and the former Eastern bloc suburb of Potsdam.
Before and after my 5.11.12 visit to Studio Babelsberg I walked around Potsdam and got a certain feel for the place so don’t tell me. It was nice and warm that day. I felt peaceful, at home.
Are you sensing from all this what Bridges of Spies is going to be like? It’s going to be a kind of respectable HBO-level period drama in which this happens and then that happens and then this happens and then that happens, and then Hanks finally arranges for the swap and Powers is finally free. Spielberg fans will happy to know that John Williams is writing the score for Bridge of Spies. It will be his 27th Spielberg collaboration.