Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
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Warning! This synopsis may contain spoilers

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Note: Please read this synopsis if you want to understand what is going on in the film. It does contain spoilers. The synopsis is taken directly from Wikipedia.

"In 1973, Control, the head of British Intelligence ("the Circus"), sends agent Jim Prideaux to Hungary to meet a Hungarian general who wishes to sell information. The operation is blown and a fleeing Prideaux is shot in the back by Soviet intelligence. Amid the international incident that follows, Control and his right-hand man George Smiley are forced into retirement. Control, already ill, dies soon afterwards." [NOTE: In the film there is only one very quick mention of his death, so if the viewer isn't listening to every single word, they will very easily miss this. I did, and so did my family.]

"Percy Alleline becomes the new Chief of the Circus, with Bill Haydon as his deputy and Roy Bland and Toby Esterhase as close allies. They have established their status by delivering apparently high-grade Soviet intelligence material, code named 'Witchcraft', about which both Control and Smiley were suspicious. Alleline shares Witchcraft material with the Americans, obtaining valuable US intelligence in exchange.

Smiley is brought out of retirement by Oliver Lacon, the Civil Servant in charge of intelligence, to investigate an allegation by agent Ricki Tarr that there is a long-term mole in a senior role in British Intelligence. Smiley interviews people who left the Circus at the same time as he and Control. One is Connie Sachs, who had been sacked by Alleline for accusing Alexei Polyakov, a Soviet cultural attach in London, of being a Soviet agent. Another is Jerry Westerby, who had been duty clerk on the night Prideaux was shot. Westerby reveals he had rung Smiley's house for instructions, but Smiley was away. Shortly afterwards, Haydon had arrived at the Circus saying he saw the news on the tickertape at his club at 1am. Smiley realises that because the tape would have been closed by 1am, Haydon must have heard the news from Smiley's wife, with whom Haydon was having an affair.

Smiley finds Tarr hiding at his home. Tarr tells him that he had been sent to Istanbul to investigate Boris, a Soviet agent. There Tarr had an affair with Boris' wife Irina, herself a Soviet operative. She had told him of the existence of the mole run by Soviet spymaster Karla. Tarr had informed London of this revelation and was ordered home at once. Boris and the British station chief in Istanbul were both killed by the Russians and Irina was taken back to Russia. Tarr, accused by the British of defecting and murdering the British station chief, had gone on the run. Smiley instructs Peter Guillam, an intelligence officer who is secretly aiding the investigation, to steal the Circus logbook for the night Tarr called: the relevant pages had been removed, evidence that Tarr's story about the mole is true.

Smiley visits Jim Prideaux, who had been repatriated. Prideaux reveals the true purpose of his mission to Hungary: to learn the name of the mole. Control had codenamed the suspects "Tinker" (Alleline), "Tailor" (Haydon), "Soldier" (Bland), "Poorman" (Esterhase) and "Beggarman" (Smiley himself). Prideaux tells of his brutal interrogation and of seeing the Soviets murder Irina in front of him, further evidence that Tarr's story is true. Smiley learns that Alleline, Haydon, Bland and Esterhase have been meeting Polyakov at a safe house, giving him what they believe to be worthless British information (thinking that, in the eyes of his Russian superiors, he is a loyal KGB agent, and needs something to show them) in return for Witchcraft material. In reality, the mole has been leaking genuine British information to Polyakov while the Witchcraft material was mostly "chicken feed", designed to persuade the Americans to share intelligence with the British, which the mole could then pass to the Soviets.

Smiley obtains the safe house address from Esterhase and has Tarr reappear at the Paris office, knowing that the mole will then want to meet Polyakov to discuss the matter. Smiley waits at the safe house and captures the mole: Haydon. At Sarratt, the Circus interrogation centre, Haydon reveals that he seduced Smiley's wife on Karla's instruction, in order to distort any suspicions Smiley may have had of Haydon. Before his mission to Hungary, Prideaux had visited Haydon and tipped him off about Control's suspicions, thus inadvertently sealing his own fate. The Circus plans to exchange Haydon back to the Soviets, but Prideaux, embittered by his experience, goes to Haydon and shoots him dead. Smiley is restored to the Circus as its chief."
Page last updated by critic-2, 2 years ago
Top Contributors: critic-2, michael-kavanagh-852-876713, trishc, yasirfarabi


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