The cast and crew of the 1959 film of Our Man in Havana arrived in the Cuban capital hot on the heels of the revolutionaries themselves so the movie was made under quite exceptional circumstances. A young reporter named Stanley Price was also in the city and was able to record both events. His memories of meeting the cast of the film and especially Graham Greene himself are recorded in an article in The Oldie magazine (see link below).
Chris Hull, whose book Our Man Down in Havana: The Story Behind Graham Greene’s Cold War Spy Novel will be published in the UK next month, has commented that the man in the middle of the photograph which heads the article is almost certainly not The Minister of Information. Chris writes that he was in fact:
‘Nicolas (Nick) Mendoza, the brother of the Cuban ambassador to London who was a key Greene contact in Havana in November 1957, and who put Greene in contact with Castro’s rebel movement through the daughter of his first cousin. I wrote to her because the man in the middle of the photograph resembled her father, whose photo she emailed me last year for use in my book. She confirmed to me immediately that indeed that is her father Nick Mendoza. I very much doubt he was the Minister of Information as the caption says, and she is very unsure too. Stanley Price evidently wrote this some years after 1959 as he makes several factual mistakes. He probably couldn’t remember or never knew who the man in the middle was, so instead of labelling him ‘unidentified man’ he designated him the Minister of Information. Anyway, it is definitely Nick Mendoza.’
There is also definitely a Havana thread at this year’s Graham Greene International Festival (19-22 September). The eponymous film, starring Alec Guinness, Noel Coward and Maureen O’Hara, will be screened on Friday night in the Civic Centre, Berkhamsted, introduced by Quentin Falk.
Next, Dr. Chris Hull and Dr James Clifford Kent will be talking during the Saturday morning session on, ‘Vicious Cities: Shadows of The Third Man in Our Man in Havana‘. If you think you fully understand the meaning of the word “vicious”, read Chris’s book!.
Finally on Saturday afternoon, BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford will be talking about her time as a journalist in Cuba and the traces she found of Graham Greene sixty years on, in ‘Our Woman in Havana: Reporting Castro’s Cuba’.
Here is the link to Stanley Price’s article in The Oldie: