Called out of retirement to settle the affairs of a friend, Smiley finds his old organization, the Circus, so overwhelmed by political considerations that it doesn't want to know what ... See full summary »
Taken from the book by John le Carre, George Smiley rallies to the aid of his former intelligence colleague, Ailsa Brimley, to investigate a mysterious letter from a junion master's wife at... See full summary »
Called out of retirement to settle the affairs of a friend, Smiley finds his old organization, the Circus, so overwhelmed by political considerations that it doesn't want to know what happened. He begins to follow up the clues of his friends past days, discovering that the clues lead to a high person in the Russian Secret service, and a secret important enough to kill for. Smiley continues to put together the pieces a step ahead or a step behind the Russian killers. Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
The recent death of Sir Alec Guinness prompted me to wonder which role in his very long career he should be remembered for, and I believe it should be his portrayal of John Le Carre's master spy and inadequate man, George Smiley.
"Smiley's People", like the earlier "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", derives much of its fascination from its mundane realism. Le Carre, unlike many espionage authors, really knew the setting, the techniques and many of the people. The TV series follows every detail of the novel and cannot be faulted on any grounds of atmosphere.
The cast list has a plethora of famous names, some so heavily made up and convincingly acted as to be unrecognisable as themselves. Guinness's gelid tones and painstakingly slow gestures manage to put them all, even the bubbly Bernard Hepton and Beryl Reid, in the shade. Especially in the final scene, where all Smiley's friends and supporters are practically dancing with joy, Guinness's studied absence of emotion dominates.
Few corporations other than the BBC would dare drag a 200-page novel out to over 4 hours of TV time, and very few actors other than Sir Alec Guinness could have held the viewer fascinated throughout such a marathon.
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