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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 »

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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 Tom Stern ... CIA Agent
Niall MacGinnis ... Checkpoint Charlie Guard
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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 BOOK THE WORLD COULD NOT LAY DOWN IS NOW A MOTION PICTURE See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Bernard Lee, who played a shopkeeper in this spy movie, is better known for already having played "M" in three James Bond movies before this. See more »

Goofs

When Leamas is taken for questioning / interrogation in East Germany, he is driven into an East German military facility. Clearly visible in the yard of the facility is a British Army Bedford "4-Tonner" lorry. See more »

Quotes

Control: Our work, as I understand it, is based on a single assumption that the West is never going to be the aggressor. Thus, we do disagreeable things, but we're defensive. Our policies are peaceful, but our methods can't afford to be less ruthless than those of the opposition, can they? You know, I'd say, uh... since the war, our methods - our techniques, that is - and those of the Communists, have become very much the same. Yes. I mean, occasionally... we have to do wicked things. Very wicked things...
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User Reviews

 
One of the best films ever made
11 June 2006 | by michael-dixon2See all my reviews

I have unreserved enthusiasm for this film having watched it on many occasions and yet to find a fault. Indeed it only gets better. It is so atmospheric, with Director Martin Ritt, his designers and photographers, all superb. You really feel you are either in a typical 1960's corner shop in London, a prison in East Germany or a communist safe-house in Scandanavia.

It has always been my view that once it is established the leading actor in any film is on top form, which certainly applies to Burton and the script is accepted as good, then it is the support actors who determine whether a film is going to reach excellence. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold has an absolutely first-class range of actors at the very top of their profession. The casting is magnificent and each of them has a meaningful part to play in this film, enabling them to bring their own special qualities to every role.

The list of talent is endless and includes Claire Bloom playing the naive young communist, Nan, who befriends Leamas, Michael Hordern, Robert Hardy, Sam Wanamaker, Peter Van Eyck who was very good as Hans Dieter Munt, the very sinister head of the East German Secret Police, the brilliant Cyril Cussack and Bernard Lee. My own particular favourite in the film, however, is the excellent Oskar Werner who portrays Fiedler, Deputy to Munt, who despite this and his fanatical belief in communism, is suspected and despised by his own organisation because he is Jewish.

But of course it is Burton who is the central part to the film and he plays the downbeat spy, Alec Leamas, to perfection, in what must be one of the best performances of his film career. Burton is Leamas and Leamas is Burton. He is brilliant and I cannot imagine the author of the book, John Le Carre, being anything than very impressed with Burton's interpretation of his character.

The film is well worthy of being watched either by those who have not seen it before, or by others who have to appreciate it once again. It is of course from a by-gone era when communism was an ideology followed by millions and opposed by many millions more besides. It was perceived by many as a fight to the death, hence the tension which Martin Ritt and his team magnificently captures.

It may well be a film depicting another era but I have no doubt there will be many operators just like Alec Leamas in our modern-day secret service, just as cynical about making a living in the seedy world in which they inhabit. The story comfortably defies the passing of time, while the quality of acting will be appreciated indefinitely such is the very high standard.

Michael Dixon, Sunderland, England.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Official Sites:

Criterion Collection

Country:

UK

Language:

Dutch | English

Release Date:

16 December 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$7,600,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Salem Films Limited See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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