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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

Unrated | | Drama, Thriller | 16 December 1965 (USA)
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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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (TV Mini-Series 2017)
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British spy, Alec Leamas, seeks vengeance on the East German Intelligence Service during the height of the Cold War. A Television adaptation of John le Carre's novel "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold".

Stars: Aidan Gillen


Cast overview, first billed only:
Rupert Davies ...
Hans-Dieter Mundt (as Peter Van Eyck)
Beatrix Lehmann ...
Tribunal President
Old Judge
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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It plunges you knife-deep into actual Espionage. It gives you the dirt as well as the dazzle. Here is excitement sheer and naked and unforgettable. [UK Theatrical] See more »


Drama | Thriller


Unrated | See all certifications »

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Official Sites:



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
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Did You Know?


Though playing a teenager, Claire Bloom was actually 34 at the time of filming. See more »


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


Control: We have to live without sympathy, don't we? We can't do that forever. One can't stay out of doors all the time. One needs to come in from the cold.
Alec Leamas: I'm an operator, Control, just an operator.
Control: There's a vacancy in Banking Section which might suit you.
Alec Leamas: Sorry, I'm an operational man. I'll take my pension. I don't want a desk job.
Control: You don't know what's on the desk.
Alec Leamas: Paper!
Control: [after taking a long sip from his tea cup] I want you to stay, uh, out in the cold... a little longer.
See more »


Spoofed in The Monkees: The Spy Who Came in from the Cool (1966) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

If only more spy movies were like this.....
1 June 2005 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

It's truly refreshing to see a spy movie which does not involve fast cars, bikini clad women, super heroes etc. This movie shows how spies are used and discarded. The main character cannot perform stunning stunts while doing one hand push ups. He is just your average Joe who drinks too much and knows that there is no escape from his profession which he seems to hate. The idealism of young people seems to depress him even more which he rips apart towards the end (the highlight of the movie). The bleak look of the movie (it's in B&W) gives it even more of an authentic look and sets the mood for the viewer.

There are no explosions, no car chases, no sweeping a woman off her feet......just plain, simple story telling.

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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... sanddragon939
Hard to comprehend whenim64
Can't follow the story... Euan1234
Poor image quality on DVD fahyr
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