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Angelina Jole & Salt: Win Free Preview Passes, And Learn Five Less Frenetic (And We're Guessing Better) Spy Movies

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Angelina Jolie's big picture -- is she in the "needs a hit" category yet? -- opens this month, and is generally being described as "a female Bourne" or terms like that.

Which means plenty of frantic cutting, shaky camera work, pulsing music, CGI explosions and -- well, you know the list of ingredients.

Spy movies aren't all like that. Some of the best of them are low-key, with hardly a fireball in sight.

Here are five such movies, all of which we're guessing will be better than Jolie's Salt.

1 The Spy Who Came In From The Cold


The above trailer is about as old-fashioned as such things could get in 1965, but don't let that put you off. John le Carre's book is terrific (and, it must be said, better than the movie), Richard Burton puts in a great performance, and the number of gunshots is probably less than the typical

Murder, She Wrote

. And each one is more important, and jarring, as a result.

2. The Good Shepherd
Criminally underrated, this movie was just too slow for some people. But Robert DeNiro captures a time when the world was paranoid and the CIA was created. Matt Damon owns the role of Edward Wilson, and the rest of the cast is studded with some of the best actors around. Oh, and Angelina Jolie.

3. Three Days of the Condor


A short-cut to pick up lunch means that a team of assassins doesn't realize Robert Redford is not in the building when they go in to eliminate a CIA branch. Redford becomes a hunted man, and learns some hard things. The ending (it's the clip above, SPOILER ALERT) is a double-edged sword to any journalist's heart.

3. Day of the Jackal


Technically, it's probably not a spy movie, although the intelligence agencies of various countries are involved. Instead it's the story of a harried, rumpled detective trying to track down a paid assassin who's been hired to kill DeGaulle. Edward Fox, who throughout bears a strong resemblance to David Bowie, is a methodical killer, and we follow him each step of the way. The ending is famous for being set up with a segment almost eight minutes long where there is no dialogue or musical score accompaniment.

5. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy


Based on another le Carre novel, this seven-part BBC mini-series has the luxury of time to examine the world of Cold War spycraft. Alec Baldwin was made to play George Smiley, the disheveled, disillusioned agent (he repeated the role in another BBC mini-series,

Smiley's People

) and the cast, of course, features the pick of British character actors. Adaptations of le Carre novels have been famously hit-or-miss, but this one is definitely on the "hit" side of the ledger. There's talk of a remake, with Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Ralph Fiennes. It will probably feature more explosions than this one.

Want passes for two to a July 20 preview of Salt? We've got 20 to give away. Just e-mail hairballscontest@houstonpress.com with "Salt" in the header and we'll enter you in a drawing. You're going to have to be able to pick up the tickets at our office downtown.

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