There's nothing cloak-and-dagger about "On Company Business," a three-hour catalogue of the CIA's three decades of strongarm diplomacy.
Author Philip Agee, a real spy who came in from the cold, is director Allan Francovitch's star witness and technical advisor: Agee's book of CIA revelations is the basis for this excellent (if long) documentary. The renegade agent builds a strong case against his former employer, as do such other agency critics as Victor Marchetti and John Stockwell. Film clips -- the shah returning to Iran in 1953, the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, the U.S.-backed bombing of Chilean President Allende's headquarters -- also indict foreign policy, Company-style.
The film portrays the CIA as Big Business' hit man, set free in 1947 to back the Marshall Plan. By 1954 it was more, its agents replacing the army and supporting every petty dictator who observed the status quo, says Marchetti. Added to this are endless tales of assassination, torture, counterrevolution, brutality and repression. Though there's little new information, the film leaves a viewer feeling helpless and more than a little paranoid: By its very nature, the CIA cannot be defanged, so it's business as usual.
ON COMPANY BUSINESS -- At the West End Circle.