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Bridge of Spies

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During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.

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  • During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
  • In the cold war, a lawyer, James B. Donovan is recruited by the CIA and involved in an intense negotiation mission to release and exchange a CIA U-2 spy-plane pilot, Francis G. Powers. The pilot was arrested alive after his plane was shot down by the Soviet Union during a mission and stays in the company of a KGB intelligence officer, Rudolf Abel, who was arrested for espionage in the US.
  • In 1957, lawyer James B. Donovan is recruited from his prestigious law firm to defend accused Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. It’s an unenviable task in many respects. Donovan hasn’t practiced criminal law since he was a prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials after World War II. Also, the strong anti-Communist mood at the time makes him a target from who think Abel should just be executed. Abel is convicted but Donovan convinces the judge to sentence him to prison, rather than execute him, as they may at some point in the future want to swap him for an American spy the Soviets might have in custody. Just such a scenario comes into play when in 1960 U-2 spy pilot Francis Gary Powers is shot down over Soviet territory and taken prisoner. Donovan is again recruited to act as the intermediary and negotiate swapping Able for the American requiring him to travel to East Berlin crossing the newly built Berlin Wall.
  • After Abel, the Russian spy is caught, the US wants to make sure he gets a fair trial so they need someone to defend him. And the man who gets the dubious honor is Jim Donovan who tries to give him a good defense but the government seems intent on making sure he gets convicted. And when Abel is found guilty, Donovan pleads for Abel not to be executed because who knows they might need him as a bargaining chip if an American is captured by the Russians. And when U2 pilot Gary Powers is captured, someone from East Germany sends Donovan a letter claiming to be able to broker an exchange; Powers for Abel. When the CIA learns of this, they want Donovan to go there and broker the deal. He agrees. But when he arrives he is informed that another American is being held by the Germans and he could be the one that’s being offered for Abel. But the CIA tells Donovan Powers is the priority. Donovan tries to get both men.
  • A European man living in the US, Rudolph Abel, is arrested as a Russian spy. An American lawyer, James Donovan, takes on his case but, faced with overwhelming evidence and a biased judge, loses the case. Abel is sentenced to 30 years in jail and Donovan’s Supreme Court appeal fails. Just then Francis Gary Powers, the “U-2 Spy”, is shot down over Russia and captured. Now Donovan becomes the negotiator in a potential prisoner swap.

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