George Smiley
Quicklinks
Top Links
main detailsbiographyby votesphoto galleryquotes
Filmographies
by yearby typeby ratingsby votesby TV seriesby genreby keyword
Biographical
biography
Did You Know?
photo galleryquotes

Quotes for
George Smiley (Character)
from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

The content of this page was created by users. It has not been screened or verified by IMDb staff.
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Return to the Circus (#1.1)" (1979)
George Smiley: What happened tonight, George?
[silence]
Peter Guillam: How's Ann?
George Smiley: Roddy Martindale happened tonight. Why do I permit it? I tell myself it's for politeness' sake. It's not, it's weakness. And the fact that I've nothing better to do... My wife's fine, thank you.

George Smiley: I've been reviewing my situation in the last half-hour of hell, and I've come to a very grave decision. After a lifetime of living by my wits, and on my memory, I shall give myself up full-time to the profession of forgetting. I'm going to put an end to some emotional attachments with have long outlived their purpose. Namely the Circus, this house, my whole past. I shall sell up and buy a cottage, in the Cotswolds, I think. Steeple Aston sounds about right. Do I need overnight things?
Peter Guillam: I'm not taking any.
George Smiley: There I shall establish myself as a mild eccentric. Discursive, withdrawn, but posessing one or two lovable habits, such as muttering to myself as I bumble along innocent pavements. I shall become an oak of my own generation.

George Smiley: I never knew Percy as a force, you see. Only as a...
Roddy Martindale: Striver? Right. With his eyes on Control's purple, day and night.

George Smiley: Before we begin, Ricki: do I understand correctly that no one at the Circus knows you're in England?
Ricki Tarr: Only Mr Guillam.
George Smiley: You're officially absent without leave. On the wanted list.
Ricki Tarr: I think I'm safe now.

George Smiley: I'm surprised you didn't get thrown out along with the rest of us, Peter. You had all the right qualifications for dismissal - good at your work, loyal, discreet...

Roddy Martindale: So who's pulling the strings for Percy Puppet? How about dashing Bill Haydon? Your old rival, in every sense I'm told. Of course, he never was orthodox, was he?... All right then, it's Roy Bland, the shop-soiled white coat, the first Red darling to make the Circus. And if it's neither of them, and Control's really dead, then there's only one possible explanation: it's someone who's pretending to be in retirement. You, George! Admit it!
George Smiley: You featherhead, Martindale! You pompous, bogus, gossiping old featherhead!

George Smiley: Why did Lacon send you for me?
Peter Guillam: Do you mean WHY did he send me for you? Or why did he send ME for you?
George Smiley: Quite right, Peter. I should have known better than to have asked.

Roddy Martindale: Let's talk about your old boss, Control. The only Head of the Secret Service who kept his name a secret. Shall we talk about Control?
George Smiley: If you insist.
Roddy Martindale: Of course, it wasn't a secret to you, was it, George? He never had any secrets from you, his tried and trusted right hand, did he?
George Smiley: I don't know. That's the point about secrets.

Roddy Martindale: I say this: Control never died at all. He's been seen, in South Africa. Can't blame a man for wanting a little peace in the evening of his life! Willy Andrewartha walked straight into him in Jo'burg Airport, in the waiting room. Not a ghost, flesh.
George Smiley: That's the most idiotic story I've ever heard! Control died of a heart attack, after a long illness, throughout most of which he continued to work. Besides, he hated South Africa. He hated everywhere except Surrey, the Circus and Lords cricket ground.
Roddy Martindale: [not missing a beat] Yes, of course. Willy Andrewartha was always the most Godawful liar. I said to him myself, you should be ashamed of yourself!

George Smiley: I'm so out of touch, Peter. Does Lacon have any particular titles these days?
Peter Guillam: Just Sir Oliver of the Cabinet Office. You know how he loves being one of nature's prefects.

Roddy Martindale: George! Hello there! My dear boy, if it isn't the maestro himself! Don't say you've forgotten me!
George Smiley: Hello, Roddy. Nice to see you.

[a waiter passes by Smiley and Martindale and queries]
George Smiley: No, thank you. Please bring the bill...
Roddy Martindale: It's my party. I'll get the bill when I'M ready!

George Smiley: I saw you parking this toy in Pearson Street this afternoon. I ran away immediately. Good guess on your part.
Peter Guillam: What made you think I was looking for you?
George Smiley: I hoped you were.

George Smiley: [about Guillam's car] It's far too young for you.
Peter Guillam: It's quick.

Ricki Tarr: [to Smiley] Twelve years ago nobody, but nobody, got taken on unless he got past you. Not even scalphunters, though they were not quite your type. We all had to get the nod from Mr Smiley.
Peter Guillam: Tarr...
George Smiley: Of course I remember you, Ricki. Your father was an Australian, as I recall a solicitor and a non-conformist preacher; altogether a most unusual chap to pop up in Marseilles. But such odd circumstances do seem to provide us with suitable personnel.

[first words]
[paying too much for a book]
George Smiley: Barabbas was a bookseller.


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
[from trailer]
George Smiley: [to Karla] We are not so very different, you and I. We've both spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in one another.

[from trailer]
George Smiley: [to Guillam] I need you to do something for me. You have to assume they're watching you...

[from trailer]
George Smiley: Now is the time.

[from trailer]
Control: All I want from you is one codename: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier...
George Smiley: ...Spy.

[from trailer]
Ricki Tarr: I needed to see you.
George Smiley: Why?

[from trailer]
George Smiley: What did you think of Control's theory?
Jim Prideaux: I thought it was madness!

Ricki Tarr: Mr Guillam, I'm sorry I was out for so long.
[Guillam attacks Tarr]
George Smiley: Ricki's been helping us, Peter! He's been telling us all about his adventures.
Peter Guillam: He's a double, George! There is no mole! Irina's been locked up by Moscow!
[turns on Tarr]
Peter Guillam: I stole that, because of you! I spied on my own, because of him! Do you know how that makes me feel?

Connie Sachs: It was a good time back then.
George Smiley: It was a war, Connie.
Connie Sachs: A war we could be proud of.

George Smiley: I know who it is. It's Karla.

George Smiley: I want to talk about loyalty, Toby. Control recruited you, didn't he? He found you starving in a museum in Vienna, a wanted man. He saved your life, I heard. And yet, when the time came... when it came to picking sides between him and Allenine, you didn't hesitate. It's understandable, perhaps, with your war experience. You survived this long, I suppose, because of your ability to change sides, to serve any master.
Easterhase: What's... what's this about, George?
George Smiley: It's about which master you've been serving, Toby.

George Smiley: [on Karla] He's a fanatic. And the fanatic is always concealing a secret doubt.

George Smiley: [discussing the veracity of a new report] Where did you get this?
Control: I didn't. Percy and his little cabal walked in with it.
Easterhase: Look, Control...
Control: Shut up!
Bill Haydon: Style, appalling. Blatantly a fabrication from beginning to end. Just could be the real thing.
Control: Smiley is suspicious, Percy.
George Smiley: Where did it come from? What's the access?
Percy Alleline: A new secret source of mine.
George Smiley: But how could he possibly have access?
Percy Alleline: He has access to the most sensitive levels of policy making. We named the Operation Witchcraft.
Control: Well, Percy and his pals bypassed us Smiley. Gone straight to the minister. Percy has been allowed to keep the identity of his new friend top secret.

Ricki Tarr: They're going to kill me.
George Smiley: Who is?
Ricki Tarr: Your lot. Or their lot, whoever gets me first. I'm innocent. Within reason.

George Smiley: We're not so different, you and I. We've both spent our lives looking for the weakness in one another's systems. Don't you think it's time to recognize there is as little worth on your side as there is on mine?

Minister: I thought Lacon had made it clear to you: keep your nose bloody well out of Witchcraft's business!
George Smiley: It's Lacon's advice I'm following.
[to Lacon]
George Smiley: You told me to follow in Control's footsteps.
Minister: I wouldn't consider that sound advice, given the mess Control left us with. It has taken Alleline - and if I may say so, myself - this long to get us back in the game.
George Smiley: The man Alleline and the others meet is called Polyakov. You believe his role is to bring information from Witchcraft to you. His real role is to receive information from the mole, to take back to Karla.
Minister: [laughing incredulously] That... that's not possible.
George Smiley: Made possible, by you, in the house which you persuaded the Treasury to pay for.
Minister: Witchcraft's intelligence is genuine! It's been gold!
George Smiley: It's just enough glitter amongst the chickenfeed. Control didn't believe in miracles, and he didn't believe in Witchcraft. But you were lazy, and you were greedy, and so you hounded him out of the Circus and you let Karla in. You've opened negotiations to exchange intelligence with the Americans...
[Realizing the implications of what Smiley is saying, the Minister starts to tremble]
George Smiley: What they tell the Circus, they'll be telling the Kremlin. Witchcraft's information, the "gold" Karla let you have, it wasn't to lure you. It was to lure the Americans. Now... do you want to take credit for that?

Connie Sachs: You could feel proud to be British back then.
George Smiley: It was war.


"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Smiley Sets a Trap (#1.6)" (1979)
George Smiley: Ever bought a fake picture, Toby?
Toby Esterhase: I sold a couple once.
George Smiley: The more you pay for it, the less inclined you are to doubt its authenticity.

Toby Esterhase: Why pick on the little guy? Why not pick on the big ones? Percy Allenine, Bill Haydon!
Peter Guillam: I thought you were a big guy these days.
George Smiley: You're the perfect choice, Toby: resentful about slow promotion, sharp-witted, fond of money. With you as his agent, Polyakov has a cover story that really sits up and works. The big three give you the little sealed packets of chickenfeed, and Moscow Centre thinks you're all theirs. The only problem arises when it turns out you've been handing Polyakov the crown jewels, and getting Russian chickenfeed in return. If that's the case, Toby, you're going to need some pretty good friends. Like us. Gerald's a Russian mole, of course. And he's pulled the Circus inside out.

Jerry Westerby: I'll do a deal with you, an offer you can't refuse. I'll shack up with Ann and be the envy of London, and you can have my job on the comic. You've got just the turn of phrase for the women's ping-pong. "Inscrutable Chinese Wizardess". Do you fancy it?
George Smiley: Is that the task for today?
Jerry Westerby: Much bigger stuff, old boy. Footer, the opiate of the people. Heap big transfer... Scottish Thunderboots to rescue of ex-champs now on the slide.

George Smiley: Come on, Jerry, out with it. Did Toby say something about Ann?
Jerry Westerby: Some story he'd got. I told him to stuff it up his silk drawers.

Oliver Lacon: The Minister's main concern is this: in his own words, how much porcelain gets broken at the end of the day? Scandal, of course, is the name. If we unmask the mole, will the Russians turn around and reveal to the press of the world how they've made fools of us all?
George Smiley: I think not. If you make your enemy look stupid, you lose the justification for taking him on.
Oliver Lacon: Yes, I've told him THAT, George.
George Smiley: So isn't his mind at rest?
Oliver Lacon: He hopes there'll be nothing messy. Nothing that would provoke Moscow.
George Smiley: But proceed?
Oliver Lacon: Oh, heavens, yes!
George Smiley: Clean the stables. Problem: flush out the mole.

George Smiley: Karla really did bring off the perfect fix... for a while. It would be beautiful in another context.
Peter Guillam: Tinker: Alleline. Tailor: Haydon. Soldier: Bland. Spot the Mole.

Jerry Westerby: Rum chap, Toby Esterhase.
George Smiley: But good.
Jerry Westerby: God, brilliant! First-rate chap! But rum.

[Smiley looks briefly out the window]
George Smiley: Just a shadow, I suppose...

George Smiley: I want to put a thesis to you, Toby. About what's been going on.

George Smiley: The art of being Gerald is to be one with a crowd. But when it comes to Polyakov, that's a whole different story.

Toby Esterhase: You're on a damn long road, George. What happens to you if you never reach the end?
George Smiley: With Lacon and the Minister behind me?

George Smiley: [peering out the window] Toby, you wouldn't be lying, would you? Did you bring a babysitter?
Toby Esterhase: George, I cross my heart, I swear to you.
George Smiley: What would you use for a job like this? Cars?
Toby Esterhase: No.
George Smiley: How many men?
Toby Esterhase: Eight, ten men.
George Smiley: What about one man alone?
Toby Esterhase: One? Never. Impossible.

Toby Esterhase: Listen, George. I know Polyakov works for Moscow. Of course I do, we all do. But come on, think how many operations we run this way. We bought Polyakov. He's a Moscow hood but he's also our joe. But he's got to pretend to his own people he's spying on us. We give him some little sealed packets, chickenfeed, Moscow claps him on the back and tells him he's a big man. It happens all the time. Come on, George, you know the game.
George Smiley: So are you Polyakov's agent inside the Circus?... Someone has to be.

George Smiley: Poor Toby. Yes, I do see, what a dog's life you must have had running between them all.

George Smiley: Peter, I want you to watch my back
[steps out and walks]
George Smiley: .

George Smiley: There are two of them, and Alleline.
Oliver Lacon: You've definitely cleared Esterhase?
George Smiley: Oh, yes.


"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Flushing Out the Mole (#1.7)" (1979)
Oliver Lacon: I suppose your wife will have to be among them. I know you told me she and Haydon are over and done with now, as you said. There's always the unknown factor in matters of the heart. I'm thinking about the future - any possible further contact - and if Ann doesn't know - she does meet so many different sorts of people.
George Smiley: [smiles] She gets around.
Oliver Lacon: I'm sorry, George.
George Smiley: Not at all, I quite take your point. Ann must let us know of any approach directly or indirectly made by or on behalf of...
Oliver Lacon: Exactly.
George Smiley: ...or even merely concerning Bill Haydon.
Oliver Lacon: Thank you.
[Smiley looks at Ann's painting]
George Smiley: I was going to tell her anyway. You might call it balancing the books.

Bill Haydon: What do you want to know?
George Smiley: Oh... why? How? When?
[Bill starts laughing and crying at the same time]
Bill Haydon: Why? You ask that? Because it was NECESSARY, that's why! Someone had to!
[pause]
Bill Haydon: We were bluffed, George. You, me, even Control. Those Circus talent spotters, all those years ago. They plucked us when we were golden with hope, told us we were on our way to the Holy Grail... freedom's protectors!
[laughing and sobbing]
Bill Haydon: My God! What a question... "why?"

[on his affair with Ann]
Bill Haydon: The thing with Ann was Karla's idea. He always believed that if there was ever any threat, it would come from you. He said you were quite good. But you had this one weakness: Ann. It was a double-fix, actually. On the one hand, you wouldn't be likely to think of me as a Circus traitor if you were preoccupied with wondering what we got up to in bed. And if it were known around the place that I was her lover, then it was bound to look like personal vengeance if you ever did suggest that I might be the mole. So, he suggested, well, not to strain it, but if possible... join the queue. Point?
George Smiley: [almost inaudibly] Point.

Oliver Lacon: You know, George, one thing perplexes me more than anything else about the mole conspiracy: well, Karla conceived Operation Witchcraft primarily as a means of placing poor Percy Alleline on Control's throne. But why didn't Karla want Haydon to simply take over the Circus himself. Well, surely it would have been much easier to arrange, with all of Bill's acknowledged accomplishments.
[cut to Haydon and Smiley walking the grounds of the detention camp]
Bill Haydon: No, no. It was a perfect setup: Percy made the running, I slipstreamed behind him, Roy and Toby did the legwork. Being in charge would have bogged me down. All the admin, the dinners in Whitehall, hobnobbing with the Set...
George Smiley: Never happened to Control.
Bill Haydon: A natural recluse, Control. I couldn't have behaved that way and gotten away with it. Much better for me to remain the freewheeling subordinate, the laughing cavalier. No, no, George, Karla and I agreed: I'd have been wasted as Chief. Could have done it, of course.
George Smiley: Of course.

[after the tape is played revealing Haydon's treachery]
Toby Esterhase: Well, that's that. Congratulations, George.
Oliver Lacon: Next step, gentlemen?
George Smiley: Would you agree with me, Percy, that our best course of action is to make some positive use of Bill Haydon? We need to salvage what's left of the networks he's betrayed.
Percy Alleline: [weakly] Yes...
George Smiley: We sell Haydon to Moscow Centre for as many of our men in the field as can be saved - for humanitarian reasons. Professionally, of course, they're finished.
Percy Alleline: Quite.
George Smiley: Then the sooner you open negotiations with Karla, the better. Well, you're much better placed to talk terms than I am. Polyakov remains your direct link with Karla.
Oliver Lacon: The only difference is, this time you know it! It's definitely your job, Percy. You're still Chief, officially... for the moment.
Percy Alleline: Very well, George.

Bill Haydon: They tell me I could be away tomorrow, or the day after. Can you make sure any mail gets forwarded from my club? Oh, and the balance of my salary, of course.
George Smiley: I will. Anything else?
Bill Haydon: Oh, yes. Nearly forgot... You got a pen somewhere?
[Smiley tosses his pen at him]
Bill Haydon: Thanks.
[writes a cheque]
Bill Haydon: A girlfriend. Give her this. I'm away on work of national importance. It may be for years, so she'll soon forget me... Well, I can't take her with me, can I? Even if I could, she'll be a bloody millstone. Oh, and there's one particular boy.
[writes an address]
Bill Haydon: A cherub, but no angel. Better give him a couple hundred - can you do that, out of the reptile fund?
George Smiley: I should think so.
Bill Haydon: [puts Smiley's pen in his pocket and leans back in his bunk] Oh, God, I'm tired...
George Smiley: My pen, please!
Bill Haydon: ...What? Oh!
[chuckles and returns Smiley's pen]
Bill Haydon: Certainly. Sorry.

[first lines]
[Smiley and Guillam prepare the safe house]
George Smiley: Toby Esterhase did say, two full milk bottles and all's well.
Peter Guillam: Right. That's the second time you asked.
George Smiley: Well, let's not pretend we're not nervous.

George Smiley: There was no one out there, that you noticed?
Mendel: Quiet as the grave.

George Smiley: Did you expect Control to send Jim Prideaux?
Bill Haydon: Well... obviously we needed to be certain Control would rise to the bait. We had to send in a big gun to make the story stick, and we knew he'd only settle for someone outside London Station, someone he trusted.
George Smiley: And someone who spoke Czech, of course.
Bill Haydon: Naturally. It had to be a man who was old Circus, to bring the temple down a bit.
George Smiley: Yes, I see the logic of it. It was, perhaps, the most famous partnership the Circus ever had: you and him, back in the old days. The iron fist, and the iron glove. Who was it coined that?
Bill Haydon: I got him home, didn't I?
George Smiley: Yes. That was good of you.

Oliver Lacon: Would the Russians kill Haydon?
Percy Alleline: It gives Karla all the reason he needs to cancel the deal with our networks.
Roy Bland: But Moscow Centre prides itself on getting its people back.
George Smiley: Important point, Roy.
Oliver Lacon: Well, WHO then?

George Smiley: Just for a moment, I wanted to shoot him, for what he did to us.
Ann Smiley: Haydon betrayed everything, everyone.

Ann Smiley: How would you describe him?
George Smiley: Yet another man trying to find a footplace in history.
Ann Smiley: George, Bill took centre stage playing stagewright, playing world against world. He loved that! He loved being a traitor.

George Smiley: Did you love him? Ann, did you?
Ann Smiley: No, George.

George Smiley: [Smiley wraps up his meeting with the Circus chiefs] As to the future, I've been asked to... look after things for a while. I'd like everyone to take some leave.
[Silence as everyone digests this]
George Smiley: Afterwards, there'll be some... redeployments...
[More silence]
George Smiley: ... for those of you who wish to remain with the Service.


"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Smiley Tracks the Mole (#1.3)" (1979)
George Smiley: Let me be blunt...
Toby Esterhase: Not YOUR style, George.

Roy Bland: You're an educated sort of a swine. "An artist is a bloke who can hold two fundamentally opposing views and still function." Who dreamed that one up?
George Smiley: Scott Fitzgerald.
Roy Bland: Well, Fitzgerald knew a thing or two. And I'm definitely functioning. As a good socialist, I'm going where the money is; as a good capitalist, I'm sticking with the revolution, because if you can't beat it, spy on it! Don't look like that, George. It's the name of the game these days. You scratch my conscience, I'll drive your Jag, right?

[Haydon notices an oil painting on Smiley's wall]
Bill Haydon: This is new. I fancy this very much.
George Smiley: Ann gave it to me.
Bill Haydon: Making amends?
George Smiley: Probably.
Bill Haydon: Must have been quite a sin. How is she?

Toby Esterhase: My problem is promotion. I mean the absence of it. I have so many years' senority that I feel actually quite embarrassed when these young fellows ask me to take orders from them.
George Smiley: Who, Toby? Which young fellows? Roy Bland? Percy? Would you call Percy young? Who?
Toby Esterhase: When you're overdue for promotion and working your fingers to the bone, anyone looks young who's above you on the ladder.
George Smiley: Perhaps Control could move you up a few rungs...
Toby Esterhase: Actually, George, I am not too sure he is able to.

Roy Bland: So, what's the deal?
George Smiley: What do you want?
Roy Bland: What about five thousand quid out of the reptile fund for starters?
George Smiley: And a house, and a car...
Roy Bland: And the kid to Eton.
George Smiley: Your father would turn over in his grave.
Roy Bland: Let him rotate, the old Commie thug!

George Smiley: "There are three of them, and Alleline." Control's words. He meant Operation Witchcraft. Merlin's minders or inventors, or programmers, or marionettes... or, what?

Control: And now there's a Witchcraft committee! The Minister's in the chair, Alleline's vice-chairman. Merlin's become an industry, it's THE industry and I'm not employed!
George Smiley: You won't even read Alleline's reports.
Control: I haven't time! Buying their way in with counterfeit money, tell them that. Tell them anything, I need time! There are three of them, and Alleline. Sweat them, George, bully them, any damn thing, give them whatever they eat, I need time!

Peter Guillam: Why was Control always so hostile to Alleline? Percy wasn't a complete fool.
George Smiley: Percy can flirt, Peter. And Control hadn't reckoned on the power of the Alleline lobby.
Peter Guillam: Who were they?
George Smiley: Golfers. "Golfers and Conservatives." That's what Control said to me.

[first lines]
George Smiley: You must assume, Peter, the Circus has dogs on you 24 hours a day. Think of it as a foreign country.

Connie Sachs: So what does George want from Connie, you bad boy?
George Smiley: Her memory. To go over some very old ground, Connie.
Connie Sachs: Hear that, Flush? First they chuck us out with an old bone, and now they come begging to us!

George Smiley: [looking at a nuclear naval treaty] This is hardly my territory.
Control: Don't let that worry you. Total ignorance of subject matter doesn't bother Percy.

George Smiley: Who runs him, Bill?
Bill Haydon: [jocular] Percy? Karla does, who else?

[last lines]
George Smiley: I don't seem to have very much on Operation Testify. Would you...?
Peter Guillam: Of course, George.

George Smiley: And within six months of Bill Haydon's diagnosis, Control was indeed dead.
Peter Guillam: And what killed him? Operation Witchcraft or Operation Testify?
George Smiley: Neither. Let's not be melodramatic, Control would disapprove. He died of old age... a little early. But Testify destroyed his function in life, which was a form of murder.


"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Tinker Tailor (#1.5)" (1979)
George Smiley: [quoting an old letter from Bill Haydon about Jim Prideaux] He has that heavy quiet that commands. He's my other half. Between us we'd make one marvelous man. He asks nothing better than to be in my company or that of my wicked, divine friends, and I'm vastly tickled by the compliment. He's virgin, about eight foot tall, and built by the same firm that did Stonehenge.
Jim Prideaux: Christ... Christ, man, we were chidren.

Jim Prideaux: Smiley.
George Smiley: Jim.
Jim Prideaux: If you're not on your own, I swear I'll break your neck.

Jim Prideaux: [describing his interrogation] I hoped I'd go mad. And no, they knew how to stop that. They left me alone for a couple of days; got me ready for the long one. That was when I ga... ga... gave... g... gave them what they wanted.
George Smiley: It's a matter of health as much as anything.
Jim Prideaux: Yes, you don't break exactly, you just run out of stories to tell. I'd reached a point where the things locked away deep down were the only things coming into my brain.

Sam Collins: So what can I do for you?
George Smiley: I want to talk to you about the night Jim Prideaux was shot. The night of Operation Testify, which is what it was called in case you didn't know.
Sam Collins: Writing your memoirs, George?
George Smiley: We're reopening the case.
Sam Collins: Who's this "we", old boy?
George Smiley: Lacon called me, with the Minister's blessing. I can give you a telephone number to confirm it, although I would prefer not to.
Sam Collins: All power corrupts but some must govern and in that case Brother Lacon will reluctantly scramble to the top of the heap.

George Smiley: They sacked you for fibbing?
Sam Collins: Alcoholism. There's a standing order against booze on the premises. What was your offense, George?
George Smiley: Oh, I couldn't convince them that I wasn't involved.

George Smiley: Sam, listen. It was too late for Bill's club to be running ticker tapes, wasn't it? He was making love to Ann that night. You made a guess at that and you were right. You telephoned her, she told you he wasn't there, and then as soon as you rung off she pushed him out of bed... and Bill turned up an hour later, knowing about Czecho. But you didn't tell Ann about Czecho.

Jim Prideaux: God damn you, George, what the hell do you want?
George Smiley: I'm sorry, Jim, but I have to know what happened.

George Smiley: How do you like schoolmastering? I think you had a spell of it after the War, didn't you?
Jim Prideaux: Don't come around playing cat and mouse with me, George Smiley. Look at the file.

Jim Prideaux: Tell me about the networks... didn't anyone get out?
George Smiley: No. It seems they were shot. The story is you blew them to save your own skin. I know that isn't true, of course...
[Prideaux rushes to the bathroom]
Jim Prideaux: For Christ's sake let's go somewhere we can breathe!

Jim Prideaux: [describing his interrogation] At this stage there was a frosty bearded fellow left, seemed to be head boy. Hated his damn cigarettes...
George Smiley: Why?
Jim Prideaux: It was a foul American thing. Camel, actually. I saw the brand.
George Smiley: And did he smoke?
Jim Prideaux: Never stopped!

George Smiley: What did he say about me?
Jim Prideaux: He showed me a cigarette lighter. Said it was yours. It had "From Ann, with all my love" and her signature engraved.
George Smiley: Did he tell you how he came by it?
Jim Prideaux: Some confrontation years ago. He said you'd remember.
George Smiley: Is there anything else?... Oh, come on, Jim, I'm not going to weaken at the knees just because some Russian hood has made a bad joke about me.
Jim Prideaux: He reckoned that after Bill Haydon's fling with her she might care to redraft the inscription. I told him to his face he can go to bloody hell, he can't judge Bill on things like that, he's a different standard!
George Smiley: [on Bill] He was never one for regulations...
Jim Prideaux: And you were never one to see him straight.

[last lines]
George Smiley: Didn't it all strike you as a bit odd? No inquisition, Toby throwing loose money around? After all, through you that the Russians had discovered the exact reach of Control's suspicions about a traitor in the Service. He narrowed the field to five, and no one's asking you about the facts...
Jim Prideaux: The facts were known. Toby ordered me not to approach anyone to try and make my story heard. He said the Circus was back on the road and I could forget Tinker, Tailor, the whole damn game, moles, everything. "Drop out," he said. "You're a lucky man, Jim. Forget it, huh? Forget it."
George Smiley: So Toby actually mentioned "Tinker, Tailor" to you? However did he get hold of that?
Jim Prideaux: [gets out of the car] And that's what I've been doing: obeying orders and forgetting!
[walks off]


"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: How It All Fits Together (#1.4)" (1979)
George Smiley: Have you noticed, Peter, that whenever I really trouble one of our acquaintances with my questions, he'll raise the matter of my failure as a husband... to confound me. Instructive.

Peter Guillam: So Karla's fireproof. He can't be bought, and he can't be beaten.
George Smiley: NOT fireproof! Because's he's a fanatic! I may have acted like a soft dolt, the very archetype of a flabby Western liberal but I'd rather be my kind of fool than his. One day that lack of moderation will be Karla's downfall.

Peter Guillam: [fuming] That bastard Tarr...!
George Smiley: Peter, slow down. Slow down!

George Smiley: Ricki Tarr has not lied to us, not in any material way. He has simply done what agents the world over do: he has failed to tell us the whole story.

George Smiley: [to Karla] Look, I am not offering you money or hot women or fast cars, you have no use for such things. And I am not going to make any claims about the moral superiority of the West. I'm sure you can see through our values, just as I can see through yours in the East. You and I have spent our lives looking for the weaknesses in each other's systems. I'm sure each of us experienced innumerable technical satisfactions in our wretched cold war. But now your own side is going to shoot you, for nothing. For misdemeanors you have not committed, because of a power struggle within your own kind, because of someone's suspicions or sheer incompetence.

Peter Guillam: [on Smiley's meeting Karla] What did Control say?
George Smiley: He said, "I hope to God they do shoot him."

George Smiley: How do you feel, Peter?
Peter Guillam: I'm all right.
George Smiley: After Delhi, you know, Control gave me three months leave without the option. When this is over, I hope you'll take it easy for a while. We're not quite there yet, but nearly. Peter, have you got the handbrake on?

George Smiley: [Hearing of Irina's execution] Ricky Tarr mustn't know. It's vital that he gets no wind of this! God knows what he would or would not do if he found out, and we may need to make further use of him.
Peter Guillam: Do you really believe all that guff about Tarr being in love with her? The little homestead in the Highlands? The avenging lover, the honourable Ricky Tarr?
George Smiley: He may be compelled, Peter, everyone has a loyalty somewhere. He mustn't know.

Mendel: [about Guillam] He does sound jumpy. He might have overdone it a bit there. He was very loud. I've seen it all before, tough ones who crack at 40. They lock it away, pretend it isn't happening, all of a sudden you find 'em sat in front of their desks, the tears pouring on the blotter.
[Smiley looks at him critically]
Mendel: I think I should say what's on my mind.
George Smiley: I think Peter will manage. You heard something about his murderous assignment in French North Africa, I suppose?
Mendel: Something. Whispers.
George Smiley: Peter was over-matched, and lost. His agents were hanged. No one recovers entirely from that sort of thing. That is, I wouldn't trust a man who did.


"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Tarr Tells His Story (#1.2)" (1979)
Peter Guillam: As soon as he gave me his story I rang Sir Oliver from a call box. I rang him here, from London.
[Smiley stares at Guillam]
Peter Guillam: Well, at the time there was no reason to suppose the phone was tapped...
George Smiley: There was every reason.

George Smiley: It's very unusual for Moscow Centre to use a husband-and-wife team. Hard to believe. Unless of course they have children in Moscow, hostages...
Ricki Tarr: They have.
Peter Guillam: Common-law marriage. Unofficial, but permanent.
Ricki Tarr: There's a lot the other way around these days, believe it or not, Mr Smiley.

George Smiley: The state of my marriage must be very common knowledge if it's gone as far down the line as Ricki Tarr. For the record, the thing with Ann and Bill Haydon is long over. My wife's present infatuation is with a young actor, currently unemployed.

George Smiley: I never heard of anyone who left the Circus without some unfinished business.

[last lines]
George Smiley: While you enjoy yourself, I shall visit Oxford, to look up an old and invaluable friend.
Oliver Lacon: Please, don't take any unnecessary risks!

Oliver Lacon: When you came to me a year ago with similar suspicions, I'm afraid I threw you out.
George Smiley: You told me to abandon my enquiries, as they were unconstitutional.
Oliver Lacon: Oh, was that the word I used? How very pompous of me.

George Smiley: Oh, I quite understand your position.
Oliver Lacon: Thank you. After all, it's not every day one's head of secret service embarks on a private war against the Czechs.


"Smiley's People: Episode #1.3" (1982)
Connie Sachs: Is that booze you're toting in your pocket, or a bloody great gun?
George Smiley: It's fatal either way.
Connie Sachs: Oh, goody, let's have lots!

Connie Sachs: How's the demon wife?
George Smiley: Flourishing, I gather.
Connie Sachs: You gather? Wish you would gather. Either gather her up for good, or drop her down a hole.

George Smiley: You know why they call Karla "The Sandman", don't you? He has a way of putting to sleep whomever gets too close to him.

George Smiley: Nobody knows the full story except Connie.
Connie Sachs: Mice eaten the files, have they?
George Smiley: You know how mice are.
Connie Sachs: I know how rats are. How is the bastard, anyway?
George Smiley: Which one?

George Smiley: I need your memory, Con.
Connie Sachs: Bust. Out of order. I've discovered love since we parted. Addles the hormones, rots the teeth.

George Smiley: That's the worry, you see. Cause and effect. Toby quarrels with Vladimir one day. Vladimir get shot with a Russian gun the next. In police terms that's what they call an embarrassing chain of events.


The Deadly Affair (1966)
Charles Dobbs: How long are you staying?
Dieter Frey: A few days. Business kunches, business dinners... I even have a business breakfast. Who knows? I might actually do some business too.

Charles Dobbs: [to Ann about her nymphomania] I've never held your appetites against you. The unaddicted shouldn't blame the addicted.

Ann Dobbs: [shouting] How can you be so aggressive about your job and so gentle about me?
[Sobs]
Charles Dobbs: I've always thought that... being aggressive was the way to... keep my job and being gentle was the way to keep you,
[after a reflective pause]
Charles Dobbs: Well, I've lost my job, haven't I?

Bill Appleby: Are you suggesting that Elsa might have connived in her husband's murder? That's rather a ghoulish thought, Charley.
Charles Dobbs: She's had a rather ghoulish life.

Charles Dobbs: [to Elsa] What kind of daydreams did you dream, Mrs. fennan, that had so little of the world in them?


"Smiley's People: Episode #1.5" (1982)
George Smiley: [on Grigoriev] So, how conscious is he?
Toby Esterhase: George, he's Russian, OK? The Russians think the butterflies are spying on them.

Saul Enderby: It isn't some wicked Bolshie plot, is it, George, to lure us to our ultimate destruction?
George Smiley: I'm afraid that we're no longer worth the candle, Saul.

Ann Smiley: I'm all you've got, George. I'm all there is; there isn't anything else. I want to stop looking. I want you to do the same. Oh, for God's sake, let's pull down the shutters and be a boring married couple.
George Smiley: I came to tell you that, while I am away - well, it's widely known within the intelligence fraternity - on all sides - that you used to be dear to me. So you and I are both at risk while I'm away.
Ann Smiley: And afterwards?
[long pause]
George Smiley: Goodbye.

Saul Enderby: The point is, I suppose, having set up his apparatus, trained it to accept his iron rule, Karla didn't dare use it for this deal, that's your point?
George Smiley: That's my point.
Saul Enderby: Ergo, we're dealing with a bunch of ninnies, not red-toothed hoods.
George Smiley: Not ninnies, just ordinary people.
Saul Enderby: You mean hoods aren't?
George Smiley: Karla was under stress. He had to take risks.
Saul Enderby: Like bumping chaps off.
George Smiley: That was more recent.
Saul Enderby: You're bloody forgiving these days, aren't you, George?
George Smiley: Am I? If you say so.
Saul Enderby: Bloody meek, too!

Lady Ann Smiley: You used to say they were the people who ruined England.
George Smiley: Did I? Who were THEY in those days? I forget.
Lady Ann Smiley: Most of my family, even Uncle Harry. What did they do wrong?
George Smiley: Stayed the same, I guess.


"Smiley's People: Episode #1.6" (1982)
[last lines]
Peter Guillam: Come on, old friend, it's bedtime. George, you won!
George Smiley: Did I? Yes, well, I suppose I did.

[waiting at the Berlin Wall for Karla]
Peter Guillam: [pointing to a man] George...
George Smiley: If he comes, he'll come on time.
Peter Guillam: Then why did we get here two hours early?
George Smiley: We owe it to him. Nobody else is on his side.

Anton Grigoriev: And what if I refuse?
George Smiley: The priest will recall you, the Swiss will expel you, Grigorieva will murder you.

George Smiley: [Writing to Karla] The young woman known as Alexandra Borisovna Ostrakova is your daughter. You arranged for her illegal departure from Russia by pretending she was a secret agent of the Thirteenth Directorate. You stole public money and misused the resources of your service. You caused the murders of two men, the first in England and the second in West Germany. I do not ask what you did to the wretched Oleg Kirov. Any one of these offences would be enough to ensure your death at the hands of your rivals in the Collegium. There is also the open question of what may be done with your daughter, here, now that her true identity is known. It is possible that she is curable, I am told, with the right treatment here in the West. In the East it is different, as you know. But what will happen once she is deprived of money and proper papers? She will become a perpetual and ailing exile, ferried from one public hospital to another. I do not need to imagine her solitude, or yours. I have seen her. When we met in Delhi, I urged you to come to the West. I promised you, within reason, a decent life. If you do that now, if you cooperate in your interrogation, you will be resettled in the usual way, and your daughter's future in the West will be secure. By your actions, you have disowned the system that made you. You have placed love above duty. The ground on which you once stood is cut away. You have become a citizen of no man's land. I send you my greetings.


"Smiley's People: Episode #1.4" (1982)
George Smiley: In my time, Peter Guillam, I've seen Whitehall skirts go up and come down again. I've listened to all the excellent argument for doing nothing, and reaped the consequent frightful harvest. I've watched people hop up and down and call it progress. I've seen good men go to the wall and the idiots get promoted with a dazzling regularity. All I'm left with is me and thirty-odd years of cold war without the option.
Peter Guillam: So what does that mean in little words?
George Smiley: It means that if a rogue elephant, to use Saul Enderby's happy phrase, charges at me out of the thicket of my past and gives me a second shot at it, I intend to shoot it dead - but with the minimum of force.

Peter Guillam: It's bloody typical of London, not telling me you're out here. I mean, that's par for the course, these days. I usually pick it up from the Queen's Messenger six weeks after the event! Not like in your day.
George Smiley: I'm sorry to have to tell you, Peter, I'm working on my own these days.
Peter Guillam: Bloody hell, George! I must say, you do put a strain on friendship, you do! You mean I just called out the entire Emergency Service in Paris to assist you in a piece of private enterprise?
George Smiley: Find a phone box, ring your wife, if there's anybody in the house tell her to get rid of them. I'm sure she's understanding.
Peter Guillam: George, she's pregnant! Forgive us, Madame.
Madame Ostrakova: You are abducting me?
Peter Guillam: Oh, no, Madame.
Madame Ostrakova: I'm a little disappointed, Monsieur.
Peter Guillam: The Ambassador's going to love this, he really is!

Claus Kretzschmar: [hearing about Leipzig's death] Then what good's the material?
George Smiley: The material is an embarrassment to the man who sent the killers.
Claus Kretzschmar: Will it kill him also?
George Smiley: It will do worse than kill him.


"Smiley's People: Episode #1.1" (1982)
George Smiley: Vladimir was one of the best agents we ever had.
Lauder Strickland: Because he was yours, you mean?
George Smiley: Because he was good.
Lauder Strickland: He was potty.
George Smiley: He was loyal and honourable. In a shifting world, he held fast. So, yes, he was potty.


"Smiley's People: Episode #1.2" (1982)
George Smiley: You haven't been talking to anyone on the other side of the business, have you? Anybody who might help get rid of a tiresome old man who's making a bore of himself? No? Well, well. I've reached an age where I'm allowed to ask, you know.