12 user 5 critic

A Murder of Quality (1991)

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 junior master's wife at... See full summary »




On Disc

at Amazon

1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A British agent sets out to uncover the hidden facts behind a British government employee's suicide.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: James Mason, Maximilian Schell, Simone Signoret
Smiley's People (TV Mini-Series 1982)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

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 »

Stars: Alec Guinness, Eileen Atkins, Bill Paterson
Certificate: M Action | Thriller | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

From the John le Carre novel about a British spy who sends a Polish defector to East Germany to verify missile sites.

Director: Frank Pierson
Stars: Christopher Jones, Pia Degermark, Ralph Richardson
A Perfect Spy (TV Mini-Series 1987)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

This is the story of Magnus Pym, from his childhood to the end of his career in middle age. As a young man, there is little doubt that his father Rick was the most influential character in ... See full summary »

Stars: Ray McAnally, Rüdiger Weigang, Alan Howard
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced out of semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6's echelons.

Stars: Alec Guinness, Michael Jayston, Anthony Bate
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

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.

Director: Martin Ritt
Stars: Richard Burton, Oskar Werner, Claire Bloom
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

An American Actress with a penchant for lying is forceably recruited by Mosad, the Israeli intelligence agency to trap a Palestinian bomber, by pretending to be the girlfriend of his dead brother.

Director: George Roy Hill
Stars: Diane Keaton, Yorgo Voyagis, Klaus Kinski
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A former British spy stumbles into in a plot to overthrow Communism with the help of a supercomputer. But who is working for whom?

Director: Ken Russell
Stars: Michael Caine, Karl Malden, Ed Begley
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A British agent is sent to Berlin to receive a Communist defector, but the true situation turns out to be rather more complicated.

Director: Guy Hamilton
Stars: Michael Caine, Oskar Homolka, Paul Hubschmid
Quiet Weekend (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

The ordinary and extraordinary adventures of a British family and their various guests during a weekend in their country cottage : the son and his socialite flirt hated by his adoring ... See full summary »

Director: Harold French
Stars: Derek Farr, Frank Cellier, Marjorie Fielding
Endstation (TV Movie 1973)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
Director: Ludwig Cremer
Stars: Hans Schweikart, Peter Striebeck
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (TV Mini-Series 2017)
Drama | Thriller

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:
Terence Fielding
Ailsa Brimley
Mad Janie
Stanley Rode
Felix D'Arcy
Matthew Scurfield ...
Insp. Rigby
Tim Perkins
Diane Fletcher ...
Shane Hecht
Fiona Walker ...
Dorothy D'Arcy
Nick Reding ...
Sgt. Mellor
Charles Hecht
Charles Pemberton ...
Sgt. Ted Mundy
William Armstrong ...
Rev. Fergus
Moray Watson ...
Maj. Harriman


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 junior master's wife at Carne School - a boy's school. When Smiley goes to Carne to investigate, he finds the junior master's wife brutually murdered, with her husband as one of the suspects. Smiley begins to scratch at the surface of the closed knit society of Carne, and soon begins to find that things are not as they seem. Secret societies, sexual abuse, and a mysterious boy, Timothy Perkins, who is either another suspect, witness, or victim. Written by <73204.3701@compuserve.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


John le Carré's George Smiley Investigates A Murder Of Quality See more »



Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 October 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Asesinato de calidad  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

| (DVD release)


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The synopsis of this tele-movie's source novel "A Murder of Quality" (1993) by John le Carré on his personal website reads: "George Smiley was simply doing a favour for an old friend. Miss Brimley had received a letter from a worried woman reader: 'I'm not mad. And I know my husband is trying to kill me.' The writer of the letter was one Stella Rode, wife to an assistant master at Carne School, Dorset, and by the time it arrived, she was dead. Smiley went there to listen, take sherry, ask questions and think. And thus uncover, layer upon layer, the complexities, skeletons and hatreds that comprised this little English institution." See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Another wonderful LeCarré adaption
13 December 2004 | by (Illinois) – See all my reviews

John LeCarré has been lucky in the adaptations of some of his books on to film. 'A Murder of Quality', though quite different from 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy' and 'Smiley's People', not to forget 'The Spy Who Came in From the Cold', is a perfectly crafted murder mystery.

Denholm Elliot's George Smiley does not try to imitate the famous portrayals by Alec Guinness but creates a similarly fascinating character out of LeCarré's most famous creation. Glenda Jackson plays his spinsterish "pal", Ailsa Brimley, a former colleague of Smiley's from The Circus during the war years. She is akin to Connie Sachs, memorably played by the great Beryl Reid in other LeCarré adaptions. Both Ailsa and Connie were in love with George and enraged at his reprobate wife, Ann. This and other LeCarré themes are used in 'A Murder of Quality' to their usual intriguing effects; the inclusion of homosexuality, misogynistic tendencies in some of the male characters and the hint of Smiley's darker, perhaps murderous past.

It is good to see Joss Ackland and Thorley Walters, old hands from earlier LeCarré adaptations. There isn't a weak link in the cast. Christian Bale makes a sexually tantalizing school boy, complete with his "criminal mind" and vulnerable consciousness. Diane Fletcher, the Lady Macbeth-like Mrs Urquehard from 'House of Cards' appears here as the tough dramatic arts mistress, the archetype gorgon, hearty and heartless.

Billie Whitelaw is a poignant mad-woman, Ronald Pickup a wonderfully spineless worm who lives with his "manly" sister, Fiona Walker. Matthew Scurfield is a fascinating police chief, a working grunt with many-faceted depths to his personality.

The cinematography is on the dark and gloomy side, as befits the story and setting. The music is superb, another wonderfully evocative score by the late great Stanley Myers.

This is now available on DVD from Acorn Media and I urge all LeCarré addicts to get it.

Great television like this is extremely rare, and getting scarcer all the time.

31 of 34 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss A Murder of Quality (1991) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: