The Japan trip marks Berg’s emergence as an agent, which became official when he joined the Office of Strategic Services in 1943. But footage from the trip also helps reveal why Berg doesn’t light up the screen.
Seen throughout the film in stills and silent films, he was a stoic player. He blended in, in other words. While this may have served him well in espionage, it’s not great on screen.
In “The Spy Behind Home Plate,” Berg comes across as intriguing, but less than charismatic.
Casey Stengel is said to have once joked that Berg could speak multiple languages — the exact number is unclear — but that he couldn’t hit in any of them. That crack may offer a clue as to why such a colorful character would make for a fairly dry film subject. In the end, “The Spy” doesn’t quite strike out, but it doesn’t make it past first base either.
“The Spy Behind Home Plate”
Starring William Corvo. Directed by Aviva Kempner.
Unrated but contains disturbing footage of nuclear bomb victims. Check listings for theaters. 1 hour, 38 minutes.
Bottom line: It could be an effective thriller, but it's missing something