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A Murder of Quality (1991)

Taken from the book by John le Carre, 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 »


Gavin Millar


John le Carré (screenplay), John le Carré (novel)

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1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Denholm Elliott ... George Smiley
Joss Ackland ... Terence Fielding
Glenda Jackson ... Ailsa Brimley
Billie Whitelaw ... Mad Janie
David Threlfall ... Stanley Rode
Ronald Pickup ... Felix D'Arcy
Matthew Scurfield ... Inspector Rigby
Christian Bale ... Tim Perkins
Diane Fletcher Diane Fletcher ... Shane Hecht
Fiona Walker ... Dorothy D'Arcy
Nick Reding Nick Reding ... Sergeant Mellor
Michael Cochrane ... Charles Hecht
Charles Pemberton Charles Pemberton ... Sergeant Ted Mundy
Bill Armstrong Bill Armstrong ... The Reverend Fergus (as William Armstrong)
Moray Watson Moray Watson ... Major Harriman


Taken from the book by John le Carre, 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 Carne School - a boy's school. When Smiley goes to Carne to investigate, he finds the junior master's wife brutually murdered, with her husband as one of the suspects. Smiley begins to scratch at the surface of the closed knit society of Carne, and soon begins to find that things are not as they seem. Secret societies, sexual abuse, and a mysterious boy, Timothy Perkins, who is either another suspect, witness, or victim. Written by <73204.3701@compuserve.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In the exclusive, private world of an English public school, everyone has a secret . . . . but someone has a motive. See more »



Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

13 October 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Asesinato de calidad See more »

Filming Locations:

Sherborne, Dorset, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:

Mono | Stereo (DVD release)



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of three appearances of actor Thorley Walters in a John le Carré filmed adaptation. The first was in an episode of the television mini-series Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979) [See: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: Tarr Tells His Story (1979)], the second was in the theatrical feature film cinema movie The Little Drummer Girl (1984), whilst the third and final appearance was in the tele-movie A Murder of Quality (1991), the latter which was also Walters' final ever film and television appearance. Walters appeared in every kind of John le Carré adaptation: a tele-movie, a TV mini-series, and a theatrical feature film. See more »


Terence Fielding: We are all common middle class boys with upper class pretensions and third class degrees.
See more »


Referenced in An Evening with George Smiley (2017) See more »

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User Reviews

Good British mystery by John le Carre
25 October 2015 | by SimonJackSee all my reviews

This 1991 British production (Thames TV) for the A&E channel is based on mystery writer John le Carre's second novel. Le Carre wrote the screenplay for "A Murder of Quality," so the necessary changes for filming were made by the book's author himself. It's interesting that this is the only story with le Carre's character, George Smiley, that is set outside the field of espionage.

A number of British actors have played George Smiley in movies made on le Carre's books. They all are very good. Denholm Elliott has the role in this film. He plays a more reserved, humble character than usual. Glenda Jackson is excellent as his friend from espionage days, Alisa Brimley. Joss Ackland is very good as Terence Fielding, a school headmaster. And, Matthew Scurfield is very good as Inspector Rigby. The rest of the supporting cast all are quite good.

While this story has the usual red herring or two, it wasn't difficult for me to guess early on who the culprit was. The film even seemed to make it easy with one scene in particular. While I haven't read many mystery novels of the past few decades, I do enjoy the movies based on works by mystery writers. Besides le Carre, John Grisham and others are still writing today. But no one, in my estimation, will ever top Agatha Christie as a crime and mystery writer. Her super sleuth, Hercule Poirot, remains the most beguiling of all crime solvers, in my book. Since the early 1960s, I have read and/or watched the films on all of Christie's works that have been printed or put on film. Only once was I able to guess correctly early on who the culprit was.

Still, one can't have caviar, clams casino, lobster, and crepes Suzette all the time. Those are all the more enjoyable on special occasions, after many more meals of good but wholesome everyday meals. So, a movie based on a le Carre novel is enjoyable and satisfying at any time. Most movie buffs should enjoy "A Murder of Quality."

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