7.6/10
13,566
116 user 59 critic

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | 16 December 1965 (USA)
Trailer
1:31 | Trailer
British Agent Alec Leamas (Richard Burton) 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

Writers:

John le Carré (novel), Paul Dehn (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

The murder of a Soviet defector forces his old handler, British spymaster George Smiley, out of retirement. His investigation leads to an old nemesis, the Soviet spymaster known only as Karla. This will be their final dance.

Stars: Alec Guinness, Eileen Atkins, Bill Paterson
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 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
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

In London, a counter espionage Agent deals with his own bureaucracy while investigating the kidnapping and brainwashing of British scientists.

Director: Sidney J. Furie
Stars: Michael Caine, Nigel Green, Guy Doleman
Becket (1964)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

King Henry II of England comes to terms with his affection for his close friend and confidant Thomas Becket, who finds his true honor by observing God's divine will rather than the King's.

Director: Peter Glenville
Stars: Richard Burton, Peter O'Toole, John Gielgud
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
A Perfect Spy (1987)
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 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
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A British Agent is sent to East 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
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Following the suicide of an elderly Jewish man, a journalist in possession of the man's diary investigates the alleged sighting of a former S.S. Captain, who commanded a concentration camp during World War II.

Director: Ronald Neame
Stars: Jon Voight, Maximilian Schell, Maria Schell
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A bitter, aging couple, with the help of alcohol, use their young houseguests to fuel anguish and emotional pain towards each other over the course of a distressing night.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal
A Murder of Quality (TV Movie 1991)
Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Taken from the book by John le Carré, 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 »

Director: Gavin Millar
Stars: Denholm Elliott, Joss Ackland, Glenda Jackson
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet Agent within MI6.

Director: Tomas Alfredson
Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy
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
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Burton ... Alec Leamas
Claire Bloom ... Nancy 'Nan' Perry
Oskar Werner ... Fiedler
Sam Wanamaker ... Peters
George Voskovec ... Comrade Karden - Defense Attorney
Rupert Davies ... George Smiley
Cyril Cusack ... Control
Peter van Eyck ... Hans-Dieter Mundt (as Peter Van Eyck)
Michael Hordern ... Ashe
Robert Hardy ... Dick Carlton
Bernard Lee ... Mr. Patmore - Grocer
Beatrix Lehmann ... Tribunal President
Esmond Knight ... Old Judge
Tom Stern ... CIA Agent
Niall MacGinnis ... Checkpoint Charlie Guard
Edit

Storyline

Alec Leamas (Richard Burton), 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 <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

THE MAN WHO KNOWS ALL THE DIRT! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Criterion Collection

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 December 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold See more »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$7,600,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Salem Films Limited See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

In his introductory scene, Control (Cyril Cusack) recalls that Hans-Dieter Mundt (Peter van Eyck) spent a period of time in England in 1959 posing as a member of The East German Steel Mission. This is a direct reference to the events of the novel "Call for the Dead", to which the novel "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" is a direct sequel. See more »

Goofs

In his defense speech of Mundt, the East German defense attorney (played by George Voskovec) states "Smiley was indeed Leamas's friend. He was also a planner in the section called Satellites Four, which operates behind the Iron Curtain." The term "Iron Curtain" would not have been used by officials of East Germany or other Soviet bloc countries to refer to the east-west divide. Originally created by Winston Churchill, the phrase "behind the Iron Curtain" became a disparaging characterization of the east bloc countries and their socialist systems. It was seen as serving to keep people in and information out, and people mostly throughout the West used the metaphor in that context. See more »

Quotes

Miss Crail: Is your handwriting legible?
Alec Leamas: Except on weekends.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest spy film ever made.
11 March 2010 | by rooprectSee all my reviews

You can check my voting history to see how rarely I give out perfect 10s. But this film truly deserves the honor.

I hesitate to call it a spy movie because it's nothing like any spy movie I've ever seen. There are no hi tech gadgets, shoe phones and sexy Russian agents. There are no fantastic plots to recover microfilm hidden in the crown jewels. The hero doesn't even carry a gun. Instead the battle is fought with pure intelligence, political manipulation and trickery. This is what true espionage is about, the way WWII history books tell us. In the same way Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" broke the rules of the scifi stereotype, this film did the same with the spy genre.

I won't say anything about the plot except that it requires your full attention. Things are not spelled out for us, and it requires a bit of work to piece it together, but that makes the payoff all the more stunning. This movie reads as if it were a book (which may be good or bad depending on how you like your movies). But I assure you it's not boring. I found myself whispering after every scene "This is so freaking cool! How much cooler can it get?" The answer: much.

The acting is flawless. Richard Burton is perfect as the cynical, faithless enigma who hides his mission so well even we can't guess what he's up to. Claire Bloom is equally convincing as the clueless but intelligent bystander. Oskar Werner, in the greatest role I've seen him play, is both chilling and magnetic as the interrogator. Even the minor roles were expertly played.

The script is so clever I highly recommend watching the film with subtitles so that you don't miss any of the great lines and wit. It may also help you keep up with the plot which, as I said, can be tricky.

Sol Kaplan's musical score is sparse but very effective in maintaining the heavy mood. The piano pieces really make you feel the weight of the dreary, cold war era. And the lack of music during tense scenes is equally powerful.

And that brings me to my favourite part of the film: the amazing camera work, cinematography and lighting. This is one of those films that makes you realize that black&white isn't just a choice of film; it's an entire art form unto itself. Darkness and light, sharpness and haze, shadows and contrast are used to the fullest. But it's not obnoxiously done like a 2nd year film student might do. No, everything flows naturally so a layperson can enjoy the scenery just as much as a cinema geek.

And there you have it; nothing but praise from me. The only problem is that it has ruined all the other spy films and political thrillers for me.


52 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 116 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed