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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 »



(screenplay), (novel)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Terence Fielding
Ailsa Brimley
Mad Janie
Stanley Rode
Felix D'Arcy
Inspector Rigby
Tim Perkins
Diane Fletcher ...
Shane Hecht
Dorothy D'Arcy
Nick Reding ...
Sergeant Mellor
Charles Hecht
Charles Pemberton ...
Sergeant Ted Mundy
Bill Armstrong ...
The Reverend Fergus (as William Armstrong)
Moray Watson ...
Major 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>

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John le Carré's George Smiley Investigates See more »



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Release Date:

13 October 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Asesinato de calidad  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The source novel "A Murder of Quality" (1962) was the second published novel written by source author John le Carré. See more »


Terence Fielding: We are all common middle class boys with upper class pretensions and third class degrees.
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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.

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