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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 9,639 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?


In the room in East Germany where Leamas is interrogated by Fiedler, the wallpaper is of English design ("Marigold" by William Morris). 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 »


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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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.

44 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
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 mr Marble
Hard to comprehend whenim64
Can't follow the story... Euan1234
Poor image quality on DVD fahyr
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