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A Compassionate Spy

1h 41m Documentary 2022

A gripping real-life spy thriller from director Steve James (HOOP DREAMS, LIFE ITSELF) about controversial Manhattan Project physicist Ted Hall, who infamously provided nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union, told through the perspective of his loving wife Joan, who protected his secret for decades.

Recruited in 1944 as an 18-year-old Harvard undergraduate to help Robert Oppenheimer and his team create a bomb, Hall was the youngest physicist on the Manhattan Project, and didn’t share his colleagues’ elation after the successful detonation of the world’s first atomic bomb. Concerned that a U.S. post-war monopoly on such a powerful weapon could lead to nuclear catastrophe, Hall began passing key information about the bomb’s construction to the Soviet Union. After the war, he met, fell in love with, and married Joan, a fellow student with whom he shared a passion for classical music and socialist causes — and the explosive secret of his espionage. The pair raised a family while living under a cloud of suspicion and years of FBI surveillance and intimidation. A COMPASSIONATE SPY reveals the twists and turns of this real-life spy story, its profound impact on nuclear history, and the couple’s remarkable love and life together during more than 50 years of marriage.

“James’s sleek telling excels at intertwining the personal and the political with illuminating detail.” ~Phil Hoad, The Guardian

“A Compassionate Spy borrows the look and feel of a historical espionage thriller and builds some momentum and moral complexity along the way, but it finds its real potency as a generational family drama.” ~Dan Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter


Steve James



Closed Captions [CC]






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