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The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1965)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller | 16 December 1965 (USA)
1:31 | Trailer

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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.


Martin Ritt


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





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


Alec Leamas, 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




Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Criterion Collection





Release Date:

16 December 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Spion, der aus der Kälte kam See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

$7,600,000, 31 December 1965
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Salem Films Limited See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


John le Carré's novel became a 'best-seller with universal appeal" according to "Who's Who in Spy Fiction" (1977) by Donald McCormick. See more »


The Whiskey that is served and sold throughout the movie has the same label and shape on three different occasions, London.the Netherlands and East Germany. See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Richard Burton was nominated, but he was not an Oskar Werner.9/10.
20 January 2005 | by highclarkSee all my reviews

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. 9/10.

For those of you who haven't seen this movie and are looking for a review, well….. This is a movie I had to watch twice. The first time I saw it, many years ago; I didn't like it at all. It was on broadcast television and it was live, no tape, no tivo, just straight through. I couldn't make out what the big deal was about this film. I had some difficulty understanding the dialog and I also had some trouble in putting names with faces. I was more than a little bit frustrated with not having enjoyed it when so many others had.

Cut to ten years and one tivo later.

I love this movie.

This is a movie that will stay with you long after the credits have finished. If after one viewing you feel that you didn't like the movie, don't abandon it quite yet. I realize it's not the kind of movie you'll want to watch back to back, especially if you didn't like it the first time, but take some time away from it and then watch it again. I believe after a couple of viewings you'll really start pick up on a lot of nuance around the characters. And you'll start to understand the dialog better; at least this is how it has played out for me.

For those who have seen this movie, and are looking for a review to see what others may have picked up on…..check out the IMDb review from Richard Tunnah or burgbob975. I liked their reviews for this movie the best.

I don't feel I can add too much more to this review that others haven't already written, other than just pointing out the performances from Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Cyril Cusack and Oskar Werner as being absolutely magnificent. I especially liked Oskar Werner.

My Favorite scene from the film happens towards the end when Leamas and Nan Perry are driving to meet up in a rendezvous with a person who is to help them escape the occupied territory. While in the car Leamas spills out to Perry all of his pent up venom for his profession and self-loathing. He describes his profession as people who are just a lot of "drunkards, queers and hen-pecked husbands" who protect the "moronic masses". It's the one scene where you feel a genuine release from the tension that has built up through the movie.

Unlike Alec Leamas, you won't be on the fence for this one. You'll either hate it or you'll love it. After two viewings, I've come back to loving it. 9/10.

Clark Richards

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