7.7/10
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113 user 58 critic

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1965)

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

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ON DISC
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.

Director:

Martin Ritt

Writers:

John le Carré (novel), Paul Dehn (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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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 ... CIA Agent
Niall MacGinnis ... Checkpoint Charlie Guard
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

THE MAN WHO KNOWS ALL THE DIRT! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Criterion Collection

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 December 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Spion, der aus der Kälte kam See more »

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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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the room in East Germany where Leamas is interrogated by Fiedler, the wallpaper is of English design ("Marigold" by William Morris). See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Alec Leamas: [to Fiedler] If ever I have to break your neck, I promise to do it with a minimum of force. Now, when do I get my bloody money?
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Connections

Referenced in Rango: The Spy Who Was Out Cold (1967) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The great Richard Burton performance no one saw...
16 July 2000 | by keihanSee all my reviews

It seems to me as though no one remembers this film. In fact, I think that it would be fair to say that I wouldn't have become intrigued enough by it to finally rent if I hadn't seen just the briefest of clips of it on an ABC news broadcast. When I think about it, I realize why should anyone remember it? This was made during the Golden Age of Bond, which this film acts as a dark mirror to. More's the pity, actually, as this was one of Richard Burton's finest performances.

Burton is cast as Alex Leamas, a nerve-dead, aged secret operative operating out of West Berlin. After a routine assignment goes awry, Leamas is sent home and out of the service. He struggles to try to live a normal, average life as a librarian's assistant, but he can't make it work for him (something that is not helped by his chronic alcoholism). This fact is made forcefully clear when he winds up beating a local grocer and is sentenced to jail time. Slowly but surely, he allows himself to be pulled back into the Cold War he operated in, not suspecting or maybe not even caring that his superiors are setting him up for a fall.

One will never mistake Alex Leamas' grey, rainy world for the sunlight universe of James Bond. It offers what is probably the ugliest depiction of the Great Game on film: drunkards, ex-Nazis, Jews, and die-hard Communists swimming like sharks through a fish pond, all of them devouring any who get in their way. None have any more than lip-service loyalty to their fellow operatives, their countries, or maybe even their own ideologies. At it's center stands Burton, playing Leamas as a walking dead man, festering with hate, resentment, and cynicism at the system that eventually sends him into the gutter. His devastating parked car monologue alone is worth the price of renting this one from the local video store.

It's bitter cynic tone may have been the film's undoing; rarely have I seen a film so downbeat in it's depiction of humanity. Still, it is not one that deserves to be forgotten.


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