Enemy Agents Defect for Love in Classic Movies

"An enemy agent defects for love" is a standard movie plot that has been around for a long time.  Omnia Vincit Amor, or some such thing. Often, though, the defector also has a hidden affinity for silk, chocolate, baseball, bubblegum, apple pie, freedom, etc. - that which is more widely available in the nation state that the hero of the film represents.

Often in films made during the early- to mid-20th century, it's a guy who wins over a female enemy agent.The man is played by a handsome, powerful movie star known for his romantic or dramatic acting chops.

If you're in the mood for classic movies about defectors, here are a few to start you off:

  • Melvyn Douglas' singular charms win over Greta Garbo, a high-ranking official, in the award-winning film Ninotchka (1939). 
  • Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse remake Nintochka as a musical in Silk Stockings (1957).

  • John Wayne's strapping presence is enough to make Janet Leigh forget her advancing career as a pilot for the other side in Jet Pilot (1957).

  • Dirk Bogarde and Sylva Koscina both contemplate giving it all up for love in the serio-comic spy film Hot Enough for June (1964) (aka Agent 8 3/4).

What are your favorite classic defector movies?


  1. "Nitnotchka" is my fave, hands down.

    It's been some years since I've seen "Green Card" with Andie MacDowell and Gerard Depardieu, but at the time I thought it was quite charming.

    1. Never heard of "Green Card." I must look that up. Thanks. :)


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