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The Iron Curtain

The Iron Curtain(1948)

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Early in 1943, three new additions to the staff of the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa arrive from Russia. They are Col. Trigorin, military attaché; Maj. Kulin, Trigorin's aide and secretary, and Igor Gouzenko, cypher clerk and decoding expert. Igor is interviewed by the head of the embassy's secret police, Ranev, and is told that no one, not even members of the embassy staff, must know his real identity and mission. Ranev assigns agent Karanova to test Igor's obedience, but Igor resists her charms. The first message from Moscow that Igor decodes instructs Trigorin and Ranev to meet with John Grubb, an agent and the founder of the Canadian communist party, who receives his orders directly from Moscow. As part of his attempt to infiltrate branches of the Canadian government, Grubb meets with Leonard Leitz, the Member of Parliament from Montreal. Calling themselves "The Associated Friends of Soviet Russia," Grubb and Leitz invite a number of potential members to a dinner in honor of Trigorin. Specifically, Grubb is trying to recruit Capt. Donald Class of the Canadian Air Force. Class volunteers to provide information and becomes an active agent, recruiting several Canadians with access to top secret materials. Igor's wife Anna then arrives from Russia and, once settled in their small apartment, tells him that she is going to have a child. Months pass quickly and the Gouzenkos explore Ottawa. One evening Anna introduces a neighbor, Mrs. Foster, to Igor, who treats her very coldly and later reminds Anna that they are forbidden to fraternize. In the middle of a snowy night, Igor is summoned to the embassy to prepare a coded message about a uranium plant being built. While he is working, Anna gives birth to a son. As Moscow is particularly interested in the uranium project, Grubb visits Dr. Harold Norman, a former Soviet ally who is working in the National Research Council laboratory on an atomic energy project. Grubb wants detailed notes on the project as well as samples of the uranium. He suggests to Norman that it would be his contribution to the safety of mankind to give him the information so that all can have it and thus ensure that the U.S. and Canada will not dare use it. Plans for the production of an atomic bomb and a sample of uranium 233 are hand-carried to Moscow by Trigorin. The first atomic bomb is dropped on Japan and the war ends, but the Soviets maintain their network of agents. Anna is beginning to have doubts about their roles and the future of their son. Due to his criticisms of the Moscow regime, Maj. Kulin, whose disillusioned father was one of the heroes of the Revolution, learns that he may be sent back to Russia. Kulin's and Anna's doubts increase Igor's own confusion, and he tells Anna that, because he will have to answer to his son as Kulin's father has had to do, they will not return to Russia. Igor formulates a plan and selects key documents from his files at the embassy, but is suddenly informed that he is being replaced and returned to Russia. Unable to reach officials in the Canadian government, Igor gives Anna the documents to give to the police in the event that anything happens to him and sends her to a neighbor's apartment. Soon after, Ranev and Trigorin come to tell Igor that unless he returns the papers, his family in Russia will be killed. Just then Anna suddenly arrives with two Canadian policemen, and although he realizes that his and Anna's families will eventually pay the ultimate price for his action, Igor tells Anna to give the documents to the police. The Russians protest and demand the return of the papers, which they say were stolen from the embassy. The policeman informs Ranev that the law requires that stolen property be identified and claimed at police headquarters. After Igor, Anna and their son are put in protective custody, newspaper headlines announce that a major Member of Parliament is to be arrested in a spy probe. The major Russian officials are recalled to Moscow, and Grubb, Leitz, Class and the other Canadian agents are put on trial and found guilty. Igor and his family are granted residency in Canada but must live under protection of the Canadian police.