La diagonale du fou by Arthur Cohn (Academy Award Best Foreign Language Film – Oscar for Switzerland)

La diagonale du fou - Dangerous moves (1984): Akiva Liebskind vs. Pavius Fromm

Dangerous Moves, in French: La Diagonale du fou  is a 1984 French-language film about chess, directed by Richard Dembo, produced by Arthur Cohn, starring Michel Piccoli, Alexandre Arbatt, as well as Liv Ullmann, Leslie Caron, and Bernhard Wicki in prominent supporting roles.

The creator of the games and chess consultant was IM Nicolas Giffard.

Its original French title is "La diagonale du fou" ("The Fool's Diagonal"), referring to the chess piece called the bishop in English, but the fool in French, and in the French language <fou> means also <crazy>, <mad>, <lunatic>, <raving>, <insane>, <loco> ..

The movie was a co-production between companies in France and Switzerland. It tells the story of two very different men competing in the final match of the World Chess Championship.

La Diagonale du fou  won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1985 (for the year 1984); it was submitted by the Swiss government, and gave Switzerland its first Oscar win.

It won the Louis Delluc Prize, the Prix de l'Académie du Cinéma and the César Award for Best Debut, too. Amongst others, the film was also nominated for the Golden Globe, USA in 1985, and Michel Piccoli was nominated for the César Award as Best Actor.

An excellent film sequence combined with visual game analysis (in Italian language):

Compare: List of Swiss submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film

Critical reviews:

Source: Wikipedia (Dangerous Moves - La Diagonale du Fou)

(Video taken from youtube:

Arthur Cohn (born in 1927), proudly presenting his 6 Oscar at his office in Basel, Switzerland in August 2000. Photo: Martin Ruetschi. Keystone / NZZ

The way we know him best: Always at work, permantly integrating. Photo: Martin Ruetschi. Keystone / NZZ

La diagonale du fou, starring French actor of Italian and Ticino descent, Michel Piccoli (1925-2020). He had one of the longest careers in French cinema, and is regarded worldwide as a symbol of France's film history. Photo: PD / NZZ

From Russia with Love – James Bond 007

From Russia With Love (1963): Kronsteen vs. Mac Adams

Watch out the cupholder S.P.E.C.T.R.E. delivers to his agent Number Five and Head of Planning, Kronsteen, calling him to report immediately to the organization's Headquarter!

In Venice, the Czech Kronsteen plays in the "International Grandmasters Championship Final" against the Canadian Mac Adams. The score is 11½ - 11½, suggesting the last game in a World Championship match..

The setting is a beautiful old castle with a huge demonstration board where the pieces are moved with long sticks on a magnetic type of board. A large audience watches the games in this classic chess scenery.

From Russia with Love, written by Ian Fleming was published in 1957 as the fifth novel of his James Bond series.

It was then the second James Bond cinema film, starring Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent '007' James Bond. Released in 1963, the film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and directed by Terence Young. 

One of the villains is Kronsteen (brilliantly played by Vladek Sheybal), an arrogant mastermind of evil and grandmaster plotter for the organisation SMERSH, labelled S.P.E.C.T.R.E. in the movies, as a later James Bond film in 2015, featuring Daniel Craig in his fourth performance as James Bond, is named Spectre in the title design.

Kronsteen is also a world-class chess player who, when asked if his plan would be successful, replies:

"It will be. I've anticipated every possible variation of countermove."

The position in the movie on the wallboard when Kronsteen got new instructions is based on an intruiging King's Gambit played by Boris Spassky and David Bronstein (Kronsteen!, well, in reality Bronstein lost) in the sixteenth round of the 27th USSR Championship held at the Chigorin Chess Club in Leningrad from January 26th to February 26th, 1960 and won by Viktor Korchnoi (ahead of shared runners-up Petrosian and Geller).

The game chosen by the film producers, was a magical masterpieces reminiscent of Grandmaster Boris Spassky's beautiful 23-move victory playing the King’s Gambit against Grandmaster David Bronstein at Leningrad in 1960. The finish became immortalised on this film scene from the James Bond - 007 movie 'From Russia With Love'.

The missing white center pawns on d4 and c5 make the film scene inaccurate from a pure chess perspective, but it's great cinema!

Appropriately our hero’s surname in reality (Spassky) has 007 letters. His first name (Boris) is an anagram of "orbis", Latin for "globe", and indeed Boris was going on to be the World Champion from 1969-72.

Film casting and chess game:

Vladek Sheybal (Kronsteen in the film)
Peter Madden (Mac Adams in the film)
From Russia with Love (The Bond movie)
From Russia, with Love (The Bond novel) (Screenshots) (James Bond Character - Kronsteen) (Background story) (Blog with analysis) (Nigel Short on the King's Gambit) (Tim Krabbé in his Open Chess diary #250) (Bill Wall) (board visualisation of the film game, in Italian) (Origin game Spassky vs. Bronstein) (Every move of the origin game explained) (Replay these two games)

An excellent film sequence combined with visual game analysis (in Italian language):

Footnote: Everybody knows about the movie from 1963, of course, but it was based on a book by Ian Fleming which was published in 1957. The usual theory is that Ian Fleming had another game in mind, played by Reshevsky and Botvinnik in 1955 (Reshevsky won). The movie came out in 1963, but it seems reasonable to assume that it was supposed to be set in 1957, as the book is:

Video is taken from youtube:

Watch out the following 'From Russia with Love' film scences with a briefing, too: ("There will be no failure!") ("I warned you, ... we do not tolerate failure! You know the penalty. SPECTRE's rules are very simple if you fail") ("He seems fit enough"; "Training is useful, but there is no substitute for experience") ("You are not here to ask questions!") ("Must we talk about it now?") ("She had her kicks")

Spectre – James Bond 007

Spectre (2015): James Bond is capturing his own pieces !!!!! 🤒 The director must be drunk.. (André Schulz, Chessbase, in german) (english translation)