In “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” (1965), John le Carré’s influential novel of cold war espionage comes to life with Richard Burton playing the central character. Alec Leamas is a far cry from the super suave super-spy, James Bond. There’s none of the gadgetry and high gloss finish for the ordinary agent Leamas who gets to visit such exotic destinations as a forest hut, a cement cell and an austere courtroom in nowhere town, East Germany thanks to his exciting chosen profession as a spy. The enduring points of interest from the film (and the novel) do not come from glamourous locations, steamy sex scenes or fantastic special effects that accompany the adrenalin pumping pursuits of the secret agent. This black and white film features things that are a little more low key (not to mention low budget). Complex dialogue, interesting character development and moral dilemma sustain one’s attention and actually leave one with something to think about after it’s all over. Move Mr. Bond. No matter what worthy actor they get to play the eternally youthful 007, he won’t be a match for Burton’s rather gritty Alec Leamas à la le Carré.
See a very interesting SNAM “Interview” that includes material on John le Carré’s spy novels. “The Deadly Affair" (1966), screened on the same evening on Saturday Night at the Movies is also reviewed on Midnight Oil.
You can try listening to the original novel on audiobook.
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See the trailer for "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" (1965)