Spy Who Came In from the Cold

Spy Who Came In from the Cold

4.2 5
Director: Martin Ritt

Cast: Martin Ritt, Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner

     
 

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Based on the novel by John Le Carre, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold stars Richard Burton as a dispirited, end-of-tether British secret agent. He comes in from "the cold" (meaning he is pulled out of field operations) to act as a undercover man behind the Iron Curtain. To make his staged defection seem genuine, Burton goes on an alcoholic toot and isSee more details below

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Overview

Based on the novel by John Le Carre, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold stars Richard Burton as a dispirited, end-of-tether British secret agent. He comes in from "the cold" (meaning he is pulled out of field operations) to act as a undercover man behind the Iron Curtain. To make his staged defection seem genuine, Burton goes on an alcoholic toot and is imprisoned and publicly humiliated. Once he has been accepted into East German espionage circles, Burton discovers that what he thought was his mission was a mere subterfuge--and that he's been set up as a pawn for an entirely different operation. Though Ireland and England "stand in" for East Berlin, Spy Who Came In From the Cold has the air of authenticity throughout, thanks in great part to the bleak black and white photography by Oswald Morris. The film was condemned as incomprehensible by those filmgoers accustomed to the simplistic melodramatics of James Bond; seen today, the double-crosses and double-double crosses seem all too clear and credible.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
The professional spy’s existence, glorified in the wildly popular James Bond movies, was effectively deglamorized in this superb 1965 adaptation of John le Carré’s bestselling novel of Cold War espionage. It’s still a potent, realistic, and gripping film, thanks largely to Martin Ritt’s matter-of-fact direction and Richard Burton’s sober, thoughtful portrayal of an embittered British secret agent nearing the end of his career. Importuned to take a desk job, he instead undertakes what is perhaps his most dangerous assignment: stalking a crack East German agent (Oskar Werner). The tension is almost instantly palpable, because the Burton character is depicted as weary, disillusioned, and therefore susceptible to defection. Spy doesn’t rely on the picturesque locations or super-scientific gadgetry seen in the Bond films; it takes place in the gray, grimy cities of Europe and revolves around the exacting cat-and-mouse games that apparently cause even the most clever spies to burn out. The normally flamboyant Burton underplays his role with perfect control, and Werner is similarly punctilious about his character. Ritt’s command of pace and tone heightens the sense of realism and generates bona fide suspense as the advantage shifts from hunter to hunted. The Cold War is long over, but le Carré’s fictional spies still retain the capacity to grab viewers and keep them engrossed in diabolical chess games, in which these accomplished agents often find themselves used as pawns.
All Movie Guide
Among the dark, revisionist espionage films to crop up in the mid-1960s as an antidote to the James Bond phenomenon was The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, an existential examination of the spy world which has lost little of its impact, even since the end of the Cold War. Richard Burton provides the movie's emotional center; he's perfect for the role of the disaffected, burnt-out secret agent. The striking, somber art direction and cinematography and Martin Ritt's terse direction lend weight to Burton's brooding lead performance. Ritt also coaxes quality supporting work from Claire Bloom and Oskar Werner. Inevitably, the film's gritty, bleak mood translated into a poor showing at the box office, but healthy television airings and video rentals have restored its luster.

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Product Details

Release Date:
09/10/2013
UPC:
0715515110716
Original Release:
1965
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Time:
1:52:00
Sales rank:
311

Special Features

Exclusive, wide-ranging interview with author John le Carré; Selected-scene Commentary featuring Director of Photography Oswald Morris; The Secret Centre: John le Carré, a 2000 BBC documentary on the author's life and work; Interview with actor Richard Burton from a 1967 episode of the BBC series Acting in the 60's, conducted by critic Kenneth Tynan; Audio conversation from 1985 between Director Martin Ritt and film historian Patrick McGilligan; Gallery of set designs; Trailer; Plus: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Sragow

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Burton Alec Leamas
Claire Bloom Nan Perry
Oskar Werner Fiedler
Sam Wanamaker Peters
George Voskovec East German Defense Attorney
Rupert Davies George Smiley
Cyril Cusack Control
Peter Van Eyck Hans-Dieter Mundt
Michael Hordern Ashe
David Bauer Young Judge
Anne Blake Miss Crail
Richard Caldicot Mr. Pitt
Marianne Deeming Frau Floerdke
Scot Finch German Guide
Niall MacGinnis Guard
Walter Gotell Holten
Robert Hardy Carlton
Edward Harvey Man in the Shop
Katherine Keeton Stripper
Esmond Knight Old Judge
Bernard Lee Patmore
Beatrix Lehmann President of Tribunal
Richard Marner Vopo Captain
George Mikell German Checkpoint Guard
Warren Mitchell Mr. Zanfrello
Nancy Nevinson Mrs. Zanfrello
Steve Plytas East German Judge
Michael Ripper Lofthouse
Michael Ritterman Security Officer
Tom Stern CIA Agent

Technical Credits
Martin Ritt Director,Producer
Edward Marshall Art Director
Oswald Morris Cinematographer
Motley Costumes/Costume Designer
George Frost Makeup
Tambi Larsen Production Designer
Josie MacAvin Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
Ted Marshall Production Designer
Hal Pereira Production Designer
Sol Kaplan Score Composer
Paul Dehn Screenwriter
Guy Troper Screenwriter
John le Carre Source Author
Anthony Harvey Editor

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