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Criterion Collection: Spy Who Came From the Cold [DVD] [1965] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Richard Burton , Oskar Werner , Martin Ritt    DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
Price: £18.97
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Frequently Bought Together

Criterion Collection: Spy Who Came From the Cold [DVD] [1965] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Funeral In Berlin [DVD] [1967]
Price For Both: £28.98

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  • Funeral In Berlin [DVD] [1967] £10.01

Product details

  • Actors: Richard Burton, Oskar Werner, Claire Bloom, Sam Wanamaker, George Voskovec
  • Directors: Martin Ritt
  • Writers: Guy Trosper, John le Carré, Paul Dehn
  • Producers: Martin Ritt
  • Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 25 Nov 2008
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 132,872 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


British agent Alec Leamas refuses to come in from the cold war during the 1960s, choosing to face another mission, which may prove to be his final one.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
138 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic of its kind!! 15 Nov 2006
This movie is a faithful rendition of one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century. The acting is superb, the sets are suitably austere and atmospheric and the plot is simply a work of genius. Forget all the cliches about this being the real thing compared to Bond movies etc. This is quite simply a different genre. It is a story of brutality and of hopelessness.It illustrates how the exploitation of human weakness can be used as an effective weapon of war. The Cold War is in the throes of being forgotten by all but the academics who study the era, but the manner in which it was fought is fascinating, and as evidenced in later adaptations of Le Carres work by the BBC(Smileys People and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)it required minds of rare intelligence and deviousness. The charachter, Smiley, which is expanded upon in the BBC dramas mentioned above has only a small part to play in this movie. But it is a pivotal part because it is he who displays the ultimate ruthlessness which epitomises the Cold Warriors.

The plot in this movie concerns an attempt by British Intelligence to undermine a dangerous East German Abteilung officer by planting a defector, Leamass, played superbly by Richard Burton, into East Germany. But as the plot unfolds we begin to see the real subtlety and manipulation at play that is charachteristic of Le Carre at his stunning best. If you are interested in this era and this type of film it is obviously the classic of its kind.

One thing I find interesting about the Cold War is that it was largely fought without weapons, and yet, as perfectly illustrated in this movie, even stripped of their weapons, men still found a way to fight a war!!

I owned it on VHS and waited for along time for a region 2 compatible DVD. No extras, but I don't care, it's a work of art which doesn't need embellishing.
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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating and complex Cold War spy drama 25 April 2006
By Darren Harrison VINE VOICE
Based on the novel by the acclaimed British author John Le Carre (who gave us the excellent SMILEY'S PEOPLE and the less steller CONSTANT GARDENER) this bleak look at Cold War espionage is actually compulsive viewing. I started watching the movie late one night fully expecting to stop about halfway through yet, there I was at 1 a.m. still transfixed at the unfolding drama.

Starring Richard Burton in perhaps one of his most impressive roles and co-starring Burton's one-time girlfriend the entrancing Claire Bloom, this movie is a complex, intricately woven movie that keeps one guessing. It starts in Germany and ends in Germany with stops in England and Holland inbetween. Burton plays Alec Leamas, a former head of British intelligence in Berlin who poses as a washed up agent as a means of implanting seeds of doubt about the loyalty of a communist spy in the minds of that spy's superiors. After beating up a grocer he is approached by East German intelligence and persuaded to "defect" to the East. Once there during the debriefing stage he begins to lay subtle clues in the hope that they will be picked up by the authorities, who will then p[iece together the clues and come to the conclusion that one of their star agents is a traitor. Sounds simple enough right?! Well, all is not as it seems and the real motive behind Leamas' ruse is one of those twists you don't see coming until it's too late.

Burton is ably supported by a brilliant supporting cast, from the aforementioned Bloom to Michael Horden as Ashe, a gay communist agent, Sam Wanamaker as Peters, Oskar Werner as the ambitious Fiedler and Robert Hardy as Dick Carlton to name just a few.

Released in 1965, this movie was made at a time when color was available for use, however the makers decided (wisely) to film it in black and white, a decision which really helps build atmosphere and drama.

I recommend this movie to everyone who likes complex plotting and espionage thrillers.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars london at its bleakest and most beautiful 26 Nov 2006
This film is a faithful adaption of the book, makes a welcome change. The two leads Burton and Bloom share a third star, that is London itself. For a feel of the greyness of London in this period, this film is tremendously evocative. It is a bleak story indeed but the two hours passes quickly, following the twists and turns but for me also following the striking filming. There is no way this should ever be in colour, it is a masterpiece and the ending, though I expected it, was as much of a shock as ever. It is a film of London when it truly was an old boy network, more so than now but also a London which was questioning and not afraid to do so. I could ramble on, but watch it. Don't expect James Bond, expect an intelligent and thought provoking story with filming that is almost art house. I kept thinking about the London of Hangover Square and Patrick Hamilton as I watched this. Unmissable.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Watchable 18 Dec 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Atmospheric; restrained and chilling. John Le Carre's plot is well treated here and Richard Burton gives an excellent performance. Unlike so many modern films, you can hear every crisp word delivered by a cast who know how to speak English.
This is a good story and the book too makes a very good read. Radio 4 also recently did an interesting adaptation with Brian Cox in the title role, for which he deserves commendation.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A grimy monochrome antidote to Bond 11 May 2013
By Mr. Stephen Kennedy TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It's fascinating to put this film into its context - a black and white, grimy film peeling the lid off the unsavoury world of spycraft in the chill of the Cold War, with no gloss or even colour to leaven the mood. And this at the same time that the world was on a high in the 60's on Connery's glossiest Bonds, as well as spy mania proliferating in tv and books, highlighting glamour, humour and colour The highest rated TV series that year was Get Smart. Here though, Le Carre's novel as put on film is more interested in damaged people and something more like the reality of spying.
Richard Burton gives an outstanding performance as Leamas, Burton playing the part of a man playing a part. Though we are invited to question where the man ends and the part he is playing begins.. The spy who has just had a failure in Berlin, but who is not ready to come in from the cold. His bosses ask him to stay in the field for one more undercover op, all in gritty but excellent black and white photography. He does what he needs to do to seem `turnable', as part of a scheme his handler has explained will help get rid of one of the top German agents... his journey of false information dissemination becomes one of self discovery as he starts to question just who is being used. His monologue near the end when he releases his true feelings about his profession makes you realize just how great an actor he could be, especially with this sort of deeply troubled and damaged character. Oskar Werner is simply mesmerising as the contact whom Leamas intends to manipulate, and Claire Bloom has a pivotal role that is utterly believable thanks to a note perfect performance that speaks much more than her words do.
It's a simply told, unfussily shot gem full of nuances, with great performances and a compelling story..
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good film well presented.
Published 9 days ago by Michael Day
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film, speedy delivery
This is a great classic film - might appreciate it even more once I get it back from my husband who's been hogging the DVD for some time :-) Delivery was spot on!
Published 1 month ago by O. Napier
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow moving
Even slower than other Le Carre work, but does give Burton a chance to show his amazing talent which saves the film. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Smiler
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant .very underrated .more gritty than bond
Burton didn't make many movies but the ones he did do were excellent .its pity here's not here anymore.he was a brilliant actor.
Published 2 months ago by stephen howarth
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic
Offsetting the glamour of James Bond espionage, this Cold War story is emotionally powerful. Obviously the acting is superb (this is a great performance by Burton, ably supported... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Keith Lawson
5.0 out of 5 stars Pieces of the puzzle
Fabulous acting by Burton (as usual) and the challenge of trying to figure out what the true motives of everyone are make this a great classic spy flick.
Published 3 months ago by Sunsong
2.0 out of 5 stars Burton's trying to be a spy.
Burton just cannot act in this drama. He's wooden and full of a sense of his own importance. The backdrop is realistic perhaps, all bleak and tedious and dreary, but that is not... Read more
Published 3 months ago by nofeargirl
5.0 out of 5 stars richard burton
Richard burton took a great part in this film he's also great in any films that he does no matter who stars with him
Published 3 months ago by sheila anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling reminder of the way things were.
I am sure there is now a whole generation who criss-cross Europe oblivious of the Cold War and all that went before, which is good. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mark Le Sueur
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is a good, old-fashioned tale, very dark, with super acting and Richard Burton's presence to enjoy. My husband and I were pleased we bought it.
Published 4 months ago by Marion
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