Passion of Spies Шпионские страсти, Shpionskiye strasti (1967)
Parodies and satires may have abounded in the West post-Bond but they weren’t as welcome in Russia during the same years. This short cartoon was originally categorized as “adult”, specifically because of its mockery of ideological cliches and the Soviet political detective. The West viewed the East as a totalitarian boot stamping out humane virtues and individuality. The East viewed the West as an aggressive perversion attacking conservative ideals.
As a spy movie it’s pretty decent. An enemy country is attempting to steal a nation’s newest technology and counterintelligence must work diligently to thwart the efforts of the enemy spies. As a satire, it lampoons Western spy caper movies as easily as stoic Eastern spy tropes. The sound track is awesomely ridiculous and the exaggerated animation style lends itself well to an editorial on human differences.
The ultimate success was perhaps less the salvation of a dentist’s chair and more the attempt to protect Soviet youth. The dissolute free-loader, almost turned by Western excess, is convinced by the Committee for State Security to trade in his pornography for a copy of Shishkin’s Morning in a Pine Forest, thereby trading in his Western perversions for more acceptable Soviet traditions. Later, our “re-educated” ex-freeloader/bum vociferously rejects the nightclub for a School For Working Youth. State victory!
So what’s the importance of a non-English and non-Western spy movie? It may sound bizarre but despite the globalizing effect of the internet, movies not made in Europe or the US are drastically underrepresented in many online “spy movie” lists and reviews. Passion of Spies is a treasure even if only that it may be completely foreign to Western audiences (get it?! mwahahahaha).
p.s. Betty Boop is a total slut in this movie