The Spy who Came in from the Cold


D: Martin Ritt

Paramount/Salem (Martin Ritt)

UK 1965

112 mins


W: Paul Dehn & Guy Trosper [based on the novel by John le Carré]

DP: Oswald Morris

Ed: Anthony Harvey

Mus: Sol Kaplan

PD: Hal Pereira, Tambi Larsen & Edward Marshall

Richard Burton (Alec Leamas), Claire Bloom (Nan Perry), Oskar Werner (Fiedler), Sam Wanamaker (Peters), Rupert Davies (George Smiley), Cyril Cusack (Control)

Based on the novel by John le Carré and tying into George Smiley's world of British Intelligence (a la Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), The Spy Who Came In From The Cold is a Cold War spy thriller starring Richard Burton in the lead role.

Like all of John le Carre's works, it spends much more time on the build-up than the payoff, concentrating on character, atmosphere and information rather than action set pieces that you'd see in a Bond film, for example.

Burton plays Alec Leamas, an intelligence agent who becomes involved in a ruse following a mission that failed. He is released from his agency, becoming an embittered alcoholic who is recruited by the East Germans to leak British secrets to them.

The cast ensemble are great, especially Richard Burton and the photography and production design are exceptionally good considering the age of the production. It's just the slowness of the pace which makes the film a bit of a chore to sit through.


Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold
Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came In From The Cold