Night Flight from Moscow

Night Flight from Moscow (also known as The Serpent)[1][2] (French: Le Serpent) is a 1973 French-Italian-West German Cold War spy thriller film produced, co-written and directed by Henri Verneuil, and starring Yul Brynner, Henry Fonda, Dirk Bogarde, and Philippe Noiret. The score was composed by Ennio Morricone.

Night Flight from Moscow
Film poster under title Le Serpent
Directed byHenri Verneuil
Produced byHenri Verneuil
Screenplay byHenri Verneuil
Gilles Perrault
Based onLe 13e suicidé by Pierre Nord
StarringYul Brynner
Henry Fonda
Dirk Bogarde
Music byEnnio Morricone
CinematographyClaude Renoir
Edited byPierre Gillette
Les Films de la Boétie
Euro International Film
Rialto Film
Distributed byPathfinder Pictures
AVCO Embassy Pictures
Release date
7 April 1973
Running time
113 minutes
West Germany


Aleksey Teodorovic Vlassov (Yul Brynner) is a high ranking KGB official who defects while in France. He has with him highly-classified information as part of a deal with Western intelligence for his arrival in the United States. The debriefing is held at Langley by DCI Allan Davies (Henry Fonda) and MI6 representative Philip Boyle (Dirk Bogarde). Vlassov hands off a list of enemy agents in Western Europe including a deep penetration into NATO.

Davies wants to begin operations to arrest the agents; however, those on the list suddenly begin to die off. The CIA also has suspicions over the authenticity of Vlassov's claims. The CIA discovers that a defection photo of Vlassov was taken in the Soviet Union, not in Turkey, judging from the contours of Mount Ararat in the background. Vlassov also fails a lie detector test after he angrily protests about sexual related questions asked by the CIA during the test.



The film received mixed reviews. A contemporary review by Tony Mastroianni in the Cleveland Press stated this film about espionage demonstrated how already in 1973 the computer had replaced the dagger. The reviewer also concluded the film had "more good moments than bad".[3] Time Out called it "a very traditional spy fable" and "the only thing that sets this film apart is the totally consistent layer of impenetrable gloss with which Verneuil covers it, and his general directorial tricksiness, which runs the gamut from the irrelevant to the pretentious and back."[1] TV Guide described it as "a solid international espionage tale" and added: "this is a gritty, tightly directed look at international intrigue, and the performances are all finely tuned. Particularly effective is Bogarde who offers a insightful portrait of a cool, calculating agent."[2]


  1. "The Serpent". Time Out London. Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  2. "The Serpent | TV Guide". Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  3. Mastroianni, Tony (1973-11-23). "Review: CIA spy film: It's not Dullesville". Cleveland State University Library. Retrieved 2013-06-25.

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