The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  16 December 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 9,789 users  
Reviews: 95 user | 60 critic

British agent Alec Leamas refuses to come in from the cold war during the 1960s, choosing to face another mission, which may prove to be his final one.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rupert Davies ...
Hans-Dieter Mundt (as Peter Van Eyck)
Beatrix Lehmann ...
Tribunal President
Old Judge
Tom Stern ...
CIA Agent
Niall MacGinnis ...
German Checkpoint Guard


Alec Leamas, a British spy is sent to East Germany supposedly to defect, but in fact to sow disinformation. As more plot turns appear, Leamas becomes more convinced that his own people see him as just a cog. His struggle back from dehumanization becomes the final focus of the story. Written by John Vogel <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Drama | Thriller


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 December 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Spion, der aus der Kälte kam  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Richard Burton and co-star Warren Mitchell were Royal Air Force cadets together at Oxford in 1944, where they knew one another and became friends. From 1944-47, when both were demobilized, they were stationed together at times in Canada and back in England. See more »


In his defense speech of Mundt, the East German defense attorney (played by George Voskovec) says "Smiley was indeed Leamas's friend. He was also a planner in the section called Satellite Four... which operates behind the Iron Curtain." The term "Iron Curtain" would not have been used by officials in East Germany or any of the Soviet bloc countries to refer to the east-west divide. It was originally created by Winston Churchill and the phrase "behind the Iron Curtain" became a derogatory description of the east bloc countries and their socialist systems. The term "Iron Curtain" was seen as serving to keep people in and information out, and people throughout the West used the metaphor in that context. See more »


Ashe: [Approaching Leamas who is sitting on a bench] Do you like birds? The ones with the white collars are wild. The others are domesticated. With people it's the other way around.
Alec Leamas: [He snickers]
Ashe: Bird-watching's one of my hobbies. I often come here.
Alec Leamas: Do you also often come to Wormwood Scrubs Prison at eight o'clock in the morning to watch birds?
Ashe: Yes, jailbirds. They're my other hobby.
Alec Leamas: Only the young ones, surely!
See more »


Referenced in Scandal: Spies Like Us (2012) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Best spy movie of the 1960s
21 December 2004 | by (Boston, MA) – See all my reviews

So many poor Cold War spy movies were made in the 1960s, ranging from shtick to schlock. This one is a standout -- great acting, great atmosphere, great plot. It's darker, grittier, and more realistic than any other films of this genre from the mid-60s, and wears even better with age (no "mind control machines" or other ridiculous retro gadgets).

Le Carré is often credited for making the spy novel transcend genre fiction and enter into the realm of literature. It is apt that a similar statement can be said about a movie based on Le Carré; it moves beyond "spy movie" into brilliant cinema. Heavily recommended.

51 of 62 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Who would like to see an remake of this? overfiend1976
Can't believe George Smiley was such a cold hearted b#$tard... sn939
Disturbing plothole The_TJT
Hard to comprehend whenim64
Can't follow the story... Euan1234
Poor image quality on DVD fahyr
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