Watch The Catcher Was a Spy full movie online free – The movie takes place before and during WWII, and covers the US government’s attempts to infiltrate the Nazi atomic weapon program, and is centered around its protagonist Moe Berg who gets recruited to track down and possibly kill its head scientist Werner Heisenberg. A great cast made this film compelling, though I felt the movie could have benefited from being longer. Also the title is terrible and doesn’t do this good movie justice.
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The Catcher Was a Spy review by kenstallings-65346 – A good story that tries to get it right
When a movie is made about a real life person, it should try to get the story accurate. It seems some criticize this movie because it doesn’t pack the action of a James Bond movie. Well, then go watch a James Bond movie! The Bond series was authored by someone who worked in British intelligence (Ian Fleming) and the details of his actual career read much like that of Moe Berg.
Real spying isn’t action packed. It’s not supposed to be. A good spy is supposed to blend in so as not to attract attention. I liked this story because it portrayed the action in that way, in the periphery, as part of the plan but not the core part of it.
Period newspaper articles in the United States, and Moe Berg’s biography openly say that Berg’s all important mission in Switzerland was to ascertain the probability of Heisenberg’s ability to create a Nazi atomic bomb, and if he determined there was a chance, to kill him.
It would be illogical to put an OSS spy in vicinity of someone like Heisenberg without a plan to assassinate him. The only reason not to is the effect on the scientific community should history record that the United States assassinated Heisenberg despite reasonable knowledge he wasn’t able to build the bomb.
The decision point that Moe Berg faced was one of the most interesting of the entire war. Perhaps the strongest reason against assassination is that Heisenberg was one of several leading Nazi scientists working on the atomic bomb. Killing him likely would have had no more impact than leaving him alive would have.
Ultimately, post-war analysis of the Nazi’s work, by those who led the Manhattan Project, proved that the Nazi program never had a chance of success. This because they never advanced past the theoretical, and even much of their theory was proven wrong by the actual research and development of the American project. So, Berg made the right choice.
Regardless of that, the Presidential Medal of Freedom was not lightly awarded, not even to OSS spies who operated in neutral territory nor behind the lines. This is another indication that Berg’s mission was presented reasonably accurately in this movie, as it shows the extreme risks he took, even as he sought to stay behind the scenes. It took another Nazi spy to recognize Berg’s mission.
In terms of movies that showed the efforts of OSS espionage, this movie might be among the most accurate. If you want the big explosions and body count, again, go watch a Bond movie and enjoy the entertainment. If you want to know what true spy craft looks like, then this movie provides a very good insight.
It’s mainly brains, the ability to think on one’s feet, sum up a complex situation quickly, be physically fit enough to meet the demands, and be willing to employ the violence when the mission calls for it, but in a way that the public does not see — exactly as this movie shows in telling the story of a true American hero.
Moe Berg perfectly fit all the OSS requirements and this movie showed why.
The Catcher Was a Spy review by jakob13 – The spy who never came in from the cold
Ben Lewin has brought Nicholas Dawidoff 1994 biography about the mysterious Moe Berg. And Moe Berg remained a mystery until he died. Here’s food for thought: when you think of Jews in baseball Moe Berg’s name doesn’t easily come to mind. Hank Grrenberg, yes. Sandy Kofax, for sure. Not Moe Berg who played for the Boston Red Sox during the 20s and the 30s. ‘The Catcher was a Spy’ is a conventional film with a fascinating ‘hero’: a polyglot, a polymath, born of Eastern Europeans Jews who settled in Harlem. And yet, Berg, played by a charming Paul Rudd who like his character celebrates tight lip secrecy. It is to Rudd’s credit to have learned smatterings of six or seven languages to give body to his character who know many, many more. Berg graduated summa laude from Princeton when few Jews could attend. A lawyer from Columbia law who passed the bar before he finished his degree. Yet baseball was his life as was spying. The script writers give short shift to the spy Berg when he went to Japan with an all-star team that included Babe Ruth. We get the idea Berg dresses up as a Japanese in full kimono, armed with a camera films from the roof of a hospital Tokyo Harbor which had a dual use as a military facility. It would have taken too much to explain the prewar politics and the role of Japan invading Manchuria, testing America’s and European empires’ turf in Asia. So, although Berg was acting on behalf of a rudimentary US spy agency, Lewin’s script white washes it as an act of a patriot. There is a ‘love’ story, but beneath the surface the film there is a flaw, a ‘moral flaw’ for the time. Was Berg queer? Probably. A scene of a night visit to the waterfront frequented by men, and non reputable bars frequented soley by men. Now to the film: Wild Bill Donovan, founder of the OSS, predecessor to the CIA, recruits Berg after Pearl Harbor. Donovan asks him if he’s queer. And without a beat, Rudd replies, ‘I know how to keep secrets’; to which Donovan replies, I don’t care wo a man f–ks, I’m only interested if he’s wants us to win the war’. Berg’s assignment is to kill Werner Heisenberg, father of the German nuclear bomb. And here the film takes wings…and a high moment of the ‘Catcher was a Spy’ is when Rudd and Strong play mental chess, to fathom have the Germans the bomb. And here we see Berg has a dialectical frame of mind, he’s willing to spare Heisenberg for an answer that Germany’s nuclear project is not very advanced. (Heisenberg is the object of an award winning play “Copenhagen’ that infers Heisenberg purposefully delayed Hitler’s plans for a nuclear weapon.) The camera turns all over the place Japan, Italy, New York and Switzerland. Long shots, close shots, it runs the full alphabet of film making. Rudd speaks his languages fairly well with a good accent, but slips briefly when it comes to French. There is nothing dramatically wrong, but the film never plumbs the secretive Moe Berg. At the end we are told Berg never married and spent time in libraries. And yet he never left the CIAin mind and spirit and died the loner he was.
The Catcher Was a Spy review by Nowego – Not to Everyone’s Taste
There are going to be lovers and haters of this movie depending on your taste and how much you like to pick holes in the acting and plot. Picky people will find many in this movie.
With all the big name actors it had you would expect it to be at least good and for me it was, I enjoyed it and never once wanted to stop watching, for me that is a sign of a good movie.
Paul Rudd, who I don’t always like as and actor was very good in this, the rest of the cast do a fine job, most are prominent actors who I expect to do well in any movie they are in.
The fact it is based on a true story can be either a benefit of hindrance depending on how the story is handled, this one was handled quite well in my opinion and while it will never win any awards it is worth watching.
Not a perfect movie, but good enough to watch more than once.
The Catcher Was a Spy review by David Ferguson – just a bit outside
Greetings again from the darkness. World War II. Baseball. Spies. A true story. Assemble all those pieces and you have Morris “Moe” Berg. Director Ben Lewin (THE SESSIONS, 2012) brings the fascinating story to the big screen with Robert Rodat’s (Oscar nominated for SAVING PRIVATE RYAN) screenplay adapted from the 1994 biography “The Catcher was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg” written by Nicholas Dawidoff. This is neither your typical spy movie nor your typical baseball movie.
Background information is provided by pre-movie title cards: in 1938 German scientists split the atom for the first time, ushering in the nuclear age; renowned German physicist Werner Heisenberg (1932 Nobel Prize winner) was charged with building an atom bomb; the United States responded by sending a baseball player to assassinate him. It’s 1944 Zurich and two men exchange uncomfortable glances across a dimly lit room.
We then flashback 8 years to see Moe Berg utilizing his gut instincts to survive as a veteran journeyman catcher for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. We later learn his sixth sense is not limited to the baseball diamond, and is used in situations much more important than whether a baserunner is stealing a base. Growing up Jewish, Berg had always been somewhat of an outsider, admitting, “I don’t fit in.” In baseball, they called him a walking enigma. Educated at Princeton, Columbia and Sorbonne in Paris, Berg spoke several languages, had a ‘fake’ wife, was a regular on quiz shows, and was constantly followed by insinuations of homosexuality … though he only admitted to being good at keeping secrets.
Berg’s is a truly fascinating story, but unfortunately Paul Rudd is a bit overmatched in the lead role. He just doesn’t quite have the dramatic acting chops to convey the intellectual depth of the man. However, the rest of the cast is stellar: Paul Giamatti (as Samuel Goudsmit), Connie Nielsen, Mark Strong (Heisenberg), Sienna Miller, Hiroyuki Sanada, Guy Pearce, Jeff Daniels (as William J Donovan), Tom Wilkinson (as Paul Scherrer), Giancarlo Giannini (a 50+ year career), and Shea Whigham (as Joe Cronin). Many of these are little more than cameos, and the choppy feel of the film’s flow prevents us from ever really connecting to characters.
An extended battle scene volleys from intense and well-filmed to slightly comical as Mr. Giamatti is forced to run and dodge bullets. The look, tone and color palette of the film is quite similar to Spielberg’s BRIDGE OF SPIES (another true story), though this current one pales in comparison, as director Lewin presents it as a “will he won’t he kill the guy?” scenario. Berg’s story is likely more suited to documentary treatment, as his time with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS, later the CIA), resulted in his being awarded the Medal of Freedom. Upon his death in 1972, Newsweek’s headline read “3rd String Catcher, 1st String Spy”.
The Catcher Was a Spy review by Moviegoer19 – Low and Outside
It’s hard to resist the baseball metaphors… For me the film never quite made it. It was certainly interesting enough, as Moe Berg was an interesting, multi-faceted person, but as a film, it was a bit flat and not hard hitting enough. I wondered whether it was because of Paul Rudd playing Berg; especially once Paul Giamatti was introduced I kept half-expecting them to start doing comedy, as they have together previously. In general I found the acting to be underwhelming, though as I often do, I’m not sure whether the cause of this was the acting or the script itself. Ironically, one of the reasons I watched it at all was because of the cast. I generally totally enjoy Paul Rudd and find Giamatti to be an excellent actor. Somehow the moderacy of the script didn’t allow for them, especially Rudd, to transcend his pleasing, affable persona.
The Catcher Was a Spy review by Frank Dudley Berry, Jr. – Character Study
I’m boosting this movie in ratings a little to give it a break, from some of the others that I don’t think understood it. ‘The Catcher Was a Spy’ isn’t a spy movie at all, although the central action of the plot is a spy mission. Rather, it is a character study of a surprisingly interesting human being, Mo Berg. Despite an abundance of gifts – there are not many human beings who can play major league baseball AND speak 12 languages – he was one of the most intensely private people imaginable, making his life a complete enigma. The picture sought to capture the essence of the man. Paul Rudd was excellent in the major role, although his performance is so low key add buttoned-down, it is easy to disregard it.
I liked the movie a lot. I also liked the first ‘Kingman’. ‘Kingsman’ was a spy movie. This one is not. Taken on its own terms, you’ll likely enjoy it.
The Catcher Was a Spy review by smannion-475-512539 – Wasted opportunity.
Amazing cast, nice design. Good director. Unfortunately the writing is a big problem. An inactive protagonist, things simply happen to him, he solves none of the problems of the film, he’s along for the ride.
Take a lesson from Bridge of Spies: there you have an active protagonist actively taking action to solve the film’s problems. There’s not one thing the lead solves in this film. He’s passive and he’s got nothing to offer in terms of skills. And when he does take action, he’s shown as incompetent. Very strange choices with the writing. Had they have done the opposite in most of their choices they’d have had a good movie. A real shame they green lit this before they had a script. Now this story will never be told with good writing.
The Catcher Was a Spy review by Paul Allaer – Even Rudd cannot save this dud
“The Catcher Was A Spy” (2018 release; 98 min.) brings the life and times of Moe Berg, “based on a true story”. Before the movie begins in earnest, we are reminded that the Germans split the atom in 1938, marking the birth of the nuclear age. The Nazis chose Heisenberg to lead that effort. The movie opens with Berg approaching Heisenberg. IS Berg about to kill him? We then go “Eight Years Earlier” where we get to know Berg as a back-up catcher for the Red Sox in the twilight of his career, and someone who happens to have degrees from Princeton and Columbia Law, and speaks 7 languages fluently. At this point we are less than 10 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you’ll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest from director Ben Lewin, who some 5 years ago brought us the delightful “The Sessions” comedy. Here he goes, based on the book of the same name, in a very different direction, examining the life of a remarkable man who ens up working for the Office of Strategic Services during WWII. How he, a baseball player, ends up there is of course one of the core attractions of the movie. With Paul Rudd cast as Moe Berg, the movie in theory has all the elements to be a terrific film. Alas, it was not to be. The acting performances all come across very wooden (you can practically hear Lewin yell “and… ACTION” at the beginning of a scene). Paul Rudd, Sienna Miller (as Berg’s supposed girlfriend), Jeff Daniels (as the OSS officer), Tom Wilkinson (as a facilitator and dinner host), they all look utterly lost, desperately hoping for some direction that never comes. What should be a riveting real-life tale of spies and military drama, instead turns out to be a flat-out snooze-inducing, lifeless and boring bio-pic. What a darn shame and what a waste of acting and creative talent…
“The Catcher Was A Spy” premiered at this year’s Sundance film festival, and recently opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. I admit I was on the fence about seeing this, but ended up seeing this after all. The Wednesday (Independence Day) matinee screening where I saw this at was attended very nicely (25-30 people). If you are a fan of WWII dramas, and assuming you keep your expectations in check, I might suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion. But I, for one, cannot in good conscience recommend this film.