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Burt Lancaster (Field of Dreams), Alain Delon (Once a Thief) and Paul Scofield (King Lear) star in this masterful spy thriller filmed on location in Washington, Paris and Vienna.With its intense action, breathtaking suspense and fabulous supporting cast that includes John Colicos (The Postman Always Rings Twice) and Gayle Hunnicutt (Running Scared), Scorpio is a bold and powerful modern classic. Lancaster is Agent Cross, a C.I.A. operative with a shocking secret; Delon is Scorpio, a French assassin with a hard-earned reputation for always getting his man. Both are experts in their fieldbrave, intelligent, and lethal. And when they're thrust together by personal ambitions and political forces beyond their control, each man finds himself fighting for his life amidst the brutal realities of the Cold War.
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The prime minister of Eritrea is assassinated by political opponents, setting off a chain of events with global repercussions in the intelligence community. Burt Lancaster plays Cross, a CIA operative who dates back to the agency's earliest days as the OSS. Scorpio (Alain Delon) is a protégé of Cross, and one of Cross's best friends in a netherworld where everyone's allegiances, personal and political, are in question. Higher-ups within the intelligence agency decide that Cross knows too much and is better off eliminated; at first, Scorpio refuses the job until the CIA frames him on a phony narcotics bust and coerces him into the assignment. The two men play a game of global cat-and-mouse as Cross consorts with his Russian counterparts--fellow aging dinosaurs in a young man's game. Cross's links with the Russians go back to the days of the Spanish Civil War and the time when Cross was given the ironic label of "premature anti-Fascist" by the House Unamerican Activities Committee. The incredibly convoluted plot is rife with double-crosses and reverse double-crosses, in an environment in which nothing is quite as it seems and no one is to be trusted. Director Michael Winner infuses enough energy and excitement into the film's many action segments to make Scorpio worthy of comparison to John Frankenheimer's best political thrillers. Winner also throws in several curveballs, such as the zither music during a meeting in a Vienna café (shades of The Third Man) and the preposterous device of disguising Lancaster as an African American priest. Though not quite a classic, Scorpio is still an underrated espionage thriller that was well attuned to the political cynicism of the time. Best line: "I want Cross, and I want him burned!" --Jerry Renshaw
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