“Churchill’s favourite spy” to be immortalised in WWII thriller
Starring Morgane Polański and Malcolm McDowell, production is underway on a WWII espionage thriller based on the life of the Polish spy Krystyna Skarbek.
Titled The Partisan, and directed by the British filmmaker James Marquand, the film is being produced by Signature Entertainment.
Adam Nerger of Signature said: “The incredible true story of Krystyna Skarbek and her heroic exploits during the war is so gripping, we were surprised that her tale had never been told cinematically before.”
He added: “James Marquand’s terrific script held us from the first moment and never let us go. We are excited for audiences around the world to discover her story and learn more about one of Poland’s greatest war heroes.”
With filming currently underway in France, other members of the cast include Frederick Schmidt, Agata Kulesza and Ingvar Sigurdsson.
However, so far the bulk of publicity has been reserved for the British screen legend Malcolm McDowell whose list of credits include, among others, Caligula and A Clockwork Orange.
Starring opposite him, meanwhile, will be Morgane Polański. The daughter of the director Roman Polański, the French-Polish actress is best-known for portraying Princess Gisla in the History Channel’s series Vikings.
According to Screen Daily, the film promises a rollercoaster of thrills. “ A Polish spy [finds herself] working for the British behind enemy lines during the Second World War,” writes the portal. “After a betrayal, she is compromised in Warsaw and finds herself in a murky world of treachery.”
This, though, seems almost an understatement given Skarbek’s heroics and colourful life.
Born in 1908 in Warsaw, she was the daughter of Count Jerzy Skarbek as well as a distant relative of the Hungarian regent, Miklos Horthy. On the outbreak of war Skarbek and her husband, set sail for London.
There she was introduced to the Secret Intelligence Service who described her as “a flaming Polish patriot, expert skier and great adventuress.”
Recruited to serve as an agent, she was first sent to Budapest where she operated working under the guise of being a journalist. Later, on a mission to Poland, she helped smuggle a microfilm that contained information that showed German preparations to invade the Soviet Union.
Sometimes called “Churchill’s favourite spy”, in 1944 she was parachuted into France. Among her numerous achievements she convinced a garrison of 200 Poles who had been fighting under the Third Reich’s colours to switch sides and prevented the execution of three high-ranking French resistance leaders.
Her actions earned her the Croix de Guerre and she was also made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
In fact, such was her legend that claims have abounded that Ian Fleming modelled the Casino Royale character Vesper Lynd on Skarbek.
Known also as Christine Granville, Skarbek was stabbed to death in 1952 in London’s Shelbourne Hotel – her assailant, an obsessed former lover, was hung for the crime.