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The Spy Who Came In from the Cold (1965)

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

BRACE YOURSELF FOR GREATNESS 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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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 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The novel of 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold' is one of the author's best known books. The phrase 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold' of the title has gone into the lexicon of popular culture. 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

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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Connections

Referenced in The Man Who Knew Too Little (1997) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Gets better and better over the years
9 June 2005 | by pekinmanSee all my reviews

Having just read LeCarré's first novel, 'Call for the Dead', I am now appreciating his third novel 'The Spy Who Came in From the Cold' even more. This film adaptation directed by Martin Ritt is a fine preamble to the masterful BBC series 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' and 'Smiley's People'. One of the joys of LeCarré's novels is that many characters return again and again. Mundt, the "villain" in 'Spy...' first appears in 'Call..' and as usual LeCarré wraps up a few loose ends from the previous story.

This black and white film recreates the sullen atmosphere of cold war espionage in a way that color seems to diminish for some unexplainable reason. Those were black and white kinda times in my memory. Depressing, frightening and dour.

George Smiley makes a small appearance, albeit very important as a character in the plot line, and is nicely played by Rupert Davies, capturing the diffident and wry Smiley as effectively as Guinness did later on and Denholm Elliot even further on in the TV film 'A Murder of Quality'. Cyril Cusack's Control could easily be the younger version of Alexander Knox's masterful rendition in the Smiley TV shows. The continuity suggested in all of these films is very satisfying. It's a shame so many of the other versions of LeCarré's novels are so mediocre... ie 'The Little Drummer Girl' with a totally miscast Diane Keaton, and 'The Russia House', too Hollywood by half.

Richard Burton turns in just about the greatest performance of his life here. He is the embodiment of the disillusioned, bitter and down-trodden ego-maniac that seems to be the basic cocktail for a spy's personality, according to LeCarré.

I've seen this film many times but just recently spotted LeCarré himself (at least it certainly looks like him) as an extra in a short scene. As Leamas is making his roundabout way to Smiley's house at 9 Bywater Street, he is exiting the first of 2 taxis. As he does so a tall, lean man in black is walking towards him. Ritt seems to be focusing the camera on this "extra" actor who actually makes furtive glances at Leamas. It is later revealed that Leamas has been followed by the Communists. Could LeCarré be playing that non-speaking, uncredited part of the Eastern "watcher" trailing Leamas to Smiley's house? Wouldn't surprise me in the least. It's a part LeCarré would have enjoyed playing, I think.

And, like Hitchcock, LeCarré has appeared in film adaptations of his books before.

Claire Bloom is excellent as the naive English communist who hasn't got a clue as to what she's supporting. The end of this film is always shocking to me. The ruthlessness of the spy-masters, the lies, the back-stabbing.... There is nothing over-blown in this film. It's all very subtle and intriguing and with the passage of time just gets more and more fascinating.

Highly recommended to fans of this genre, especially LeCarré fanatics. If you haven't read his books you are missing out on perhaps the finest living writer of the English language. Some "experts" think his writing style is out of date because the plots are so involved and the prose so full of humor and political incorrectness; I read something to that effect in the most recent edition of the 'Halliwell' guide. Perhaps the editor of that book has A.D.D. or something, or perhaps he's just seen to many glitzy, empty flicks designed to entertain the gawping masses, I don't know. To me, LeCarré will never go out of style and it is to be hoped the film adaptations of his books will continue to be made. A few remakes wouldn't be out of order either.


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