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RED JOAN - Mutually Assured Deterrence?

This is a hard one. Huge fan of Judi Densch and of a few of the lesser known cast of "Red Joan," the story of Melita Norwood, an outed Russian spy.

Of course she wasn't outed until her 80s, but outed she was.

Joan Stanley (Densch) is an elderly grandmotherly type living out her life in some cozy middle-class town somewhere near London. MI5 knocks on her door and drags the wrinkled old babe off to interrogation.

The charge?


Joan, while at Cambridge (Good God. Have our tony institutions always been crucibles of insurrectionist thought?), gets involved with a Communist Leo Galich (Played with too much hair by Tom Hughes), and his "cousin" Sonya (Teresa Srbova). Like most unemployable losers these two want to burn the world to the ground and start over. They have no plan for the aftermath, but global arson sounds fun.

Appears the Millennial generation aren't the only nitwit knowitalls of history.

Joan, professing nothing but innocence to the charge of giving nuclear secrets to the USSR at the end of WWII, is dragged off and questioned by Nina Sosanya. Ms. Sosanya is one of the funnier people in "Love Actually." She plays Hugh Grant's Chief of Staff and calls Grant's current wannabe girlfriend, "The chubby girl?"

Ms. Sosanya ain't so funny this time. She's done her homework on Red Joan.

Despite protestations to the contrary, turns out Joan Stanley IS GUILTY. Due to her age, 88 at the time of the arrest (2000), the British government did not pursue much past an admission of guilt. She died five years later in 2005, aged 93.

"Red Joan" is one of those films you finish and say, "That wasn't bad." The movie, savaged by critics, is very average. Trevor Nunn, a theater director, helmed the effort. His lack of experience in the discipline shows with the overly dramatic scenes; bad shot compositions; and editorial ennui.

But the film, and Joan, ask an important question, "If every country had the bomb, would anyone use it?"

I would say yes, but there are PLENTY who say no. Of course, Ms. Norwood was secreting documents out of England long before Vladimir Putin decided to play 'RISK' with the entire world. Perhaps she'd have not acted so today?

Uh, but Stalin was in charge of the USSR, so Ms. Norwood, brilliant as she was, could also be called idealistic and naive. Don't know.

I would also surmise that without the United States, the Rosenbergs and Ms. Norwood, the Russians would still be fumbling around trying to figure out which way to insert a centrifuge. Iran wouldn't have the bomb. Nor China. Nor India. Nor North Korea. Israel might, but my pro-Isreali stance makes me okay with that.

If plans had stayed under lock and key and useful idiots like Ms. Norwood didn't make decisions for the entire population on Earth, we might be safer than Mutually Assured Deterrence.

Netflix, for your next dose of political philosophy.

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