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The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1965)

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold poster.jpg

It was a foul, foul operation, but it paid off. With a screenplay by Paul Dehn and Guy Trosper from the groundbreaking realist espionage novel of 1963 by the man known as John le CarrĂ©, this is just as complex – in terms of narrative and morals – as the source material. Richard Burton is Alec Leamas, the British agent unwillingly retired who plays a role to entice an operation run by Control (Cyril Cusack) that will bring him back in the game. Along the way he falls in love with naive Communist Party member Nan Perry (Claire Bloom, a real-life former lover) and we meet George Smiley for the first time on screen (played here by Rupert Davies). How big does a cause have to be before you kill your friends? What about your Party? There’s a few million bodies on that path! The stakes are high and agent Fiedler (Oskar Werner) is running a very dangerous line of enquiry which ends up in a trial at the East German’s presidium. Lives are exchanged with a brutal ending. Shot on location for the most part in Dublin which brought glamour to the dear old dirty place in the form of Burton and Taylor at the height of their fame. Berlin never looked like this – did it?! Grim but repays at the very least a second viewing for unbelievers. Burton is great in a production that returns spy thrillers to a gritty realism and a moral grey area that the James Bond series eschewed. We have to live without sympathy, don’t we? We can’t do that forever. One can’t stay out of doors all the time. One needs to come in from the cold

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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