If you’re caught up on the past three seasons of The Americans, you don’t need us to tell you the next season premieres tonight (March 16) on FX … because we know you’ve been waiting for it. We won’t spoil anything for anyone, but all we’ll say about last season’s cliffhanger for people who are in the know, “That phone call??”
The series revolves around two Russian citizens living in the U.S. as a married couple, portrayed by Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. They’ve been placed in suburban Washington D.C. to collect information on the U.S. government’s movements and get it back to the Soviet Union during the 1980s Cold War. The two aren’t technically married, but they go through the motions of man and wife. They even have children. Yes, technically they are their children, but is the family unit all a front to keep their cover?
The Americans leaves us wondering, “What’s real? And what’s not”” Even Rhys’ character finds himself liking the lifestyle in the U.S. … a little too much for his wife’s taste.
If you want more like The Americans, here are 10 Cold War films hitting some of the same themes as the series:
1. Dr. Strangelove
Stanley Kubrick‘s 1964 Dr. Strangelove is a British satire of the Cold War, starring Peter Sellers, George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden. A power hungry American General (Hayden) decides to attack Russia. And the Soviet Union is ready to retaliate with a Doomsday machine. Sellers takes on multiple roles in the film, including Captain Mandrake of the U.K. Royal Airforce, U.S. President Merken Muffley and the President’s right-hand man Dr. Strangelove. Scott portrays General Buck Turgidson, who is trying to advise the President on how to move forward.
2. The Bedford Incident
Sidney Poitier stars as a journalist in the 1965 film The Bedford Incident. He joins the crew of an American submarine, the USS Bedford. It was supposed to be a routine patrol until the destroyer ship spots a Soviet vessel. Captain Eric Findlander (Richard Widmark) has no plans of letting the Russians get away, even with a civilian on board.
3. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
Richard Burton stars as British agent Alec Leamas in the 1965 film The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, an adaptation of John le Carré‘s novel. Leamas is nearing the end of his career as a secret agent (like it or not), but he has one last mission to complete before that happens. You may be hearing le Carré’s name thrown around a lot these days, with the TV adaptation of le Carré’s The Night Manager heading to AMC.
4. Spy Game
Robert Redford also portrays a spy on the verge of retiring in 2001’s Spy Game. He has to postpone his retirement party because his protégé (Brad Pitt) has been captured by the enemy. You can also look for other familiar faces like Stephen Dillane and Marianne Jean-Baptiste.
5. The Manchurian Candidate
Denzel Washington stars in the 2004 adaptation of Richard Condon‘s 1959 novel The Manchurian Candidate. Washington takes on the role of an American war vet. He begins to have doubts about what actually happened when he and his unit were held captive during the Gulf War. The original film premiered in 1962.
6. The Lives of Others
The 2007 Oscar-winning film for Best Foreign Film revolves around a German agent (Ulrich Mühe) working for the secret police. Set in East Berlin in 1984, he offers his expertise to spy on famous writer Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch). It turns out the higher-ups are using his skills for ulterior motives. The Lives of Others is in German with English subtitles.
Ryan Phillippe takes on the role of FBI agent Eric O’Neill in the 2007 film Breach. His direct superior (Chris Cooper) is suspected of working on behalf of the Soviet Union. Based on true events, O’Neill works to take his boss down.
8. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
British intelligence suspects there is a mole within the agency in the 2011 film adaptation of John le Carré’s novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch) is recruited to head the hunt and sniff out the mole. Cumberbatch is part of an all-star ensemble including Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Toby Jones and Ciarán Hinds. In 1979 the BBC produced a miniseries adaptation, starring Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley. Guinness reprised his role as Smiley, who was called out of retirement in the 1982 miniseries Smiley’s People.
The 2009 French film Farewell is fact-based, detailing the actions of KGB officer Vladimir Vetrov in the 1980s. The story follows a KGB agent (Emir Kusturica) who has become disillusioned with the Soviet government. He works with a young French engineer (Guillaume Canet) based in Moscow to pass sensitive information to the French government, which makes its way to the U.S. The film is in French with English subtitles.
10. Bridge of Spies
Mark Rylance just won a 2016 Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role based on his performance in Bridge of Spies. He portrays an accused Soviet Spy on trial in the U.S. Tom Hanks takes on the role of an insurance lawyer assigned to his case. This is an adaptation of the 2010 nonfiction book Bridge of Spies: A True Story of the Cold War, which documented the exchange of prisoners between the U.S. and Soviet Union.
If that weren’t enough to get those wheels turning, here are some other suggested films that are no less great than the above and we didn’t want to leave out:
- The Prize (1963)
- Seven Days in May (1964)
- Fail Safe (1964)
- WarGames (1983)
- Red Dawn (1984)
- The Hunt for Red October (1990)
- The Good Shepherd (2006)
- The Double (2011)
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