The Ipcress File (1965)

 |  Crime, Thriller  |  2 August 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 9,489 users  
Reviews: 89 user | 53 critic

In London, a counter espionage agent deals with his own bureaucracy while investigating the kidnapping and brainwashing of British scientists.



(screenplay) (as Bill Canaway) , (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Won 3 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Aubrey Richards ...
Frank Gatliff ...
Thomas Baptiste ...
Oliver MacGreevy ...
Housemartin (as Oliver Macgreevy)
Freda Bamford ...
Pauline Winter ...
Anthony Blackshaw ...
Barry Raymond ...
David Glover ...
Stanley Meadows ...
Inspector Keightley


A number of leading Western scientists have been kidnapped only to reappear a fews days later. Unfortunately, each scientist has been brainwashed and is now completely useless. The British send their agent, Harry Palmer, to investigate. Palmer is surprised to be selected for such a mission (considering his past) and believes he has been chosen because he is expendable. Written by Dave Jenkins <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The spy story of the century.


Crime | Thriller


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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

2 August 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ipcress  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Harry's glasses frames were dark brown, contrary to the widely held view that they were black. They were a style called "Teviot 74" manufactured by a company called UK Optical. They were already popular at the time for being a stylish and inexpensive alternative to the standard models that were issued for free by the National Health Service in Britain. They became even more popular after the success of this film. Len Deighton wore the same frames at this time. Those frames have been described by some as the first affordable "designer" frames available in the UK. See more »


When Harry Palmer is imprisoned in a cell, on two occasions, as he leans up in the bed, his left arm touches the "solid" brick scenery wall moves, like it is made of material. See more »


Bluejay: [to a guard] See that there's padding on those straps next time.
Palmer: You want to make it easy for me?
Bluejay: No. For *me*.
See more »


Referenced in Bullet to Beijing (1995) See more »


Music by Vivian Ellis
Boosey & Hawkes Ltd
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User Reviews

Do a good bit of a lunch at your club do they?
7 April 2003 | by (London) – See all my reviews

The best thing about this film is the fascinating period atmosphere. When this film was made, 1965, Britain, and British filmmaking, was exactly on the cusp between the old, class ridden, Imperial culture of films like 'Zulu', and the gritty, modern, realist school that began with films like 'Get Carter'.

In '65 Britain had a Labour government after a long period of Conservative rule, and sweeping changes were about to happen which would utterly change the face of British life. 'Ipcress' bridges the gap between these two eras.

On the one hand we have the upper-middle class army officers lunching at their clubs and strolling along in bowler hats with tightly furled umbrellas, and at the other extreme we have the way-out psychedelia of the interrogation chamber scene, and the grimy world of offices, warehouses, and men jumping out of vans that defined the TV and films of the 70s such as 'The Sweeney'.

In the middle somewhere is Harry Palmer, who rather than being working class, is classless. He has no discernable accent, dresses plainly, likes cooking and classical music and lives in nondescript surroundings. It is only his military rank, that of sergeant, that enables us to make any kind of judgement on his social status.

I think this is part of the enduring appeal of the film. Although the Dalbys of this world are long gone, Palmer would not be out of place in 2003, in fact the Palmers of this world are now the norm in many positions of British authority.

Overall a fascinating period piece but one which has worn well.

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