The Russia House

Synopsis: Three notebooks supposedly containing Russian military secrets are handed to a British publisher during a Russian book conference. The British secret service are naturally keen to learn if these notebooks are the genuine article. To this end, they enlist the help of the scruffy British publisher Barley Blair, who has plenty of experience with Russia and Russians. Barley, an unconventional character who doesn't respond well to authority, finds himself in a game more complex than he first thought when he digs into the origin of the notebooks.
Director(s): Fred Schepisi
Production: MGM Home Entertainment
  Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 4 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
123 min

Never screwed one,

never flirted with one,

never proposed to one,

never even married one.

What is she, the usual fat-arsed frump?

She visited the British Council's

audio fair in Moscow exactly a week ago.

Audio fair?


Books of the bloody future.

- So why didn't you go?

- I can go. I can not go.

I'm my own man. But you wouldn't

know anything about that.

Crap, Barley. You rented

a stand, booked your hotel, your flight...

Why didn't you show up?

I have a board.

I have family shareholders.

The firm's having withdrawal pains at the

bank, if it's any of your bloody business.

It is.

Tell me something.

Do you know Niki Landau?

Excuse me. Do you know

Mr Bartholomew Scott Blair?

Yeah, I know Niki. Short-arse Polish

cockney sales rep. Goes at it like a rabbit.

Barley? Sure, I know Barley.

House of Abercrombie and Blair,

publishers, drunk or sober.

A gent. One of the best.

I must speak to Mr Scott Blair.

It is very urgent.

He's not here, darling.

But he was not here yesterday.

Mr Scott Blair never came. He's absent.

AWOL. Not among those present. Sorry.

lrritating little sod.

I'm quite fond of him really.

I have an important manuscript for him.

It is for Mr Blair. Only for Mr Blair.

Listen, I'm trying to make a living here.

And not for Mr Blair, love him as I may.

Might one inquire

why she should ask Niki about you?

I don't know. I don't know her.

So you know Niki,

but not Katya?

Oh, now you're getting it, old boy.

- Is that Scotch over there?

- Help yourself.

Hold everything.


You must be very kind and help me.

A Russian friend of mine

has written an important novel.

lts message is important

for all of mankind.


In spite of glasnost, my friend's

novel cannot yet be published...

in the Soviet Union.

Mr Scott Blair has undertaken

to publish it... with discretion.

Don't worry. With Abercrombie and Blair,

your friend's book is virtually guaranteed

to appear in total secrecy.

If you love peace, please,

take this to England to Mr Scott Blair.

- It is a gift of trust.

- It is better that you smile.

- Excuse me?

- Smile.

This is Anglo-Soviet cultural exchange.

We smile, we exchange culture.

Looking scared is something different.

Got it in there, have we?

This is dangerous for you.

You must believe in what you are doing.


We smile, we kiss. Formal Russian kiss.

That's right.

Now we've done it. You have brought me

an official farewell gift from...

October Publishing

on the last day of the fair.

And I have given you Shakespeare's

Sonnets for Careful Drivers.

Would you... like

a nice dinner out somewhere?

It is not convenient.

Thank you.

You can't think of any reason

why a book editor called Katya Orlova

should risk her neck

to send you a manuscript?


Who said... ''risk her neck''?

I did.

- Must be quite a book.

- It is.

- May I see it?

- Let's begin with the letter.

''Personal. For Mr Bartholomew

Scott Blair. Urgent. ''

We'd like to find out why a woman

you don't know should send you a letter

beginning ''My beloved Barley'',

and sign herself ''Your loving K''.

She's potty. Certifiable.

Where is this manuscript?

- That's none of your business.

- Like hell it isn't.

She sent it to me as a publisher.

- It's a bloody sight more mine than yours.

- Please calm down.

It's in safe hands, Barley.

The manuscript was in three notebooks.

When Niki couldn't find you in London,

he had the sense to bring them to us.

The first notebook is worthless,

scientifically speaking.


Peacenik manifestos, slogans,

poems, quotations.

It has psychological interest, Minister,

in so far as the writer sounds...

Absolutely barking.

- Would you say?

- It's not a medical term, sir.

Unstable, perhaps.

- As for notebooks two and three?

- Genuine science.

Written by someone in the business.

No question.

The business?

Destruction paths, payloads, aim points,

bias, rate of burn, trajectories, telemetry.

Of course, it doesn't necessarily

describe the true state of affairs.

What the hell does it purport to describe?

In a nutshell, the Soviet's strategic

capability for waging nuclear war.

And addressed to boozy Barley Blair.

Well, if it's strategic, we can't

evaluate it without the Americans.

So it's their baby, not ours.

- Throw Scott Blair to the Americans.

- Unfortunately, we haven't found him yet.

Eureka! We've got him.

A Lisbon bank account, my dears!

- We've got him.

- Lisbon.

- Why did you run away?

- Run away? I own a flat here.

(American accent) Why Lisbon, Barley?

(mimics accent) Why Langley, Bob?

You brought a woman?

What's it to you if I brought a woman,

a man or a f***in' Muscovy duck?

What do you do with yourself

in Lisbon, Barley?

Well, I was having a drink.

Until I was interrupted.

- Mr Blair?

- Eh?

I believe I'm addressing Mr Bartholomew

Scott Blair. Yes? Correct?

- Yes.

- I'm Merrydew. I'm from the embassy.

We received a rather urgent

message for you over our link.

Are you trying to tell me

someone's dead, old boy?

No. That would be consular.

I'm commercial.

Well, I never knew an honest debt

that couldn't wait till Monday.

Loosen your girdle, Merrydew.

Have a drink with the unwashed.

I say, Blair, the man's the Queen's

emissary, for Christ's sake.

Have they moved the embassy, or are you

hijacking me? What's going on, tubby?

- I'm commercial. Strictly commercial.

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Tom Stoppard

Sir Tom Stoppard OM CBE FRSL (born Tomáš Straussler; 3 July 1937) is a British playwright and screenwriter, knighted in 1997. He has written prolifically for TV, radio, film and stage, finding prominence with plays such as Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia, Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, Professional Foul, The Real Thing, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. He co-wrote the screenplays for Brazil, The Russia House, and Shakespeare in Love, and has received one Academy Award and four Tony Awards. Themes of human rights, censorship and political freedom pervade his work along with exploration of linguistics and philosophy. Stoppard has been a key playwright of the National Theatre and is one of the most internationally performed dramatists of his generation. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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