As you’re no doubt aware, Russia is suddenly a major player in U.S. foreign policy again. Between Michael Flynn and other members of the new administration, the aggression in Ukraine, Edward Snowden, spy ships anchored 30 miles off the U.S. shore, and the hacking rumors, it feels like we’re suddenly at the beginning of a second Cold War. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of films and TV shows either from or about that era, which means we have a wealth of classic entertainment to inform and distract us about the surreal new world we find ourselves living in. Below are five of our favorites.
One of the best shows currently on TV, The Americans deals with a pair of Soviet spies living undercover as a normal American husband and wife in the DC suburbs. It has all the best parts of prestige family dramas with the added bonus of top-notch spy plots. The daringness and deviousness of the Russians combined with plot lines involving flawed FBI agents will no doubt feel very familiar to people paying attention to contemporary politics.
While not the best film of the Rocky franchise, Rocky IV is certainly the best of the boxing flicks at creating a seemingly impossible-to-defeat Russian villain. Ivan Drago is so bad, in fact, that he kills Rocky’s friend and rival Apollo Creed in the ring. But Rocky eventually gets his revenge. The perfect film to watch if you need a dose of cheesy sports-inspired patriotism.
The Hunt for Red October
The first of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan books to make it to the big screen, The Hunt for Red October tells the story of a Soviet submarine captain (Sean Connery) trying to defect to the U.S. as CIA agent Ryan (Alec Baldwin) tries to figure out why. A good, suspenseful Cold War tale to revisit as a Russian ship sits 30 miles from the U.S. coast.
Bridge of Spies
The 2015 film details the hard work of a deeply moral and patriotic attorney named James Donovan (Tom Hanks) who has been assigned—against his will—to defend Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance, who won an Academy Award for his role), a Soviet spy working undercover in New York. Eventually Donovan is sent to East Berlin to negotiate an exchange with the Russians. A story about the complicated inner-workings of intelligence agencies and other government bureaucracies in addition to the bravery of an unflappable lawyer certainly feels relevant today.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Technically not a story about America’s relationship with Russia, but the 2011 film adaptation of John le Carré’s 1974 novel is too pertinent to what’s happening right now to ignore. A story abut a retired spy master secretly taking up the job again to root out a Soviet mole at the top of the U.K.’s intelligence, the film—if it took place across the pond—could almost be called Tinker Tailor Soldier Flynn.
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