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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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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 »
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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 (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 PUT DOWN IS NOW A GREAT FILM [UK Theatrical] 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
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

John le Carré in an article for the New Yorker remembered that the presence of Dame Elizabeth Taylor on the set was incredibly disruptive. The Checkpoint Charlie set was re-created at Dublin's Smithfield Market and because these were nighttime shoots, huge crowds would turn out to watch and inevitably delay the filming. The Taylor-Burtons occupied an entire floor of Dublin's Gresham Hotel, and visitors to the set included Franco Zeffirelli and Yul Brynner, whose son, Rock, was studying in Dublin's Trinity College at the time. On more than one occasion, filming was delayed by the arguing and drunken behavior of Burton and Taylor. 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: Mundt was a Nazi, wasn't he?
Fiedler: He was a member of the Hitler Youth... as a boy.
Alec Leamas: Now he's a grown-up Communist. He was what I would call... available.
Fiedler: Like you!... Shall we begin? Let me start by asking you an amusing question.
Alec Leamas: Let me start by asking you one! Make you laugh your head off! Where's my money? When can I go whatever... whatever home is? And Carleton's gone home! Peters has gone home! What about me?
Fiedler: The agreement was...
Alec Leamas: Agreement!... You've broken the bloody agreement and barring ...
[...]
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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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