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Smiley's People [1982] [DVD]

 Suitable for 15 years and over   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
Price: 8.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Smiley's People [1982] [DVD] + Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy : Complete BBC Series [DVD] [1979] + The Spy Who Came In From The Cold [DVD] [1965]
Price For All Three: 16.53

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Product details

  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 28 Jun 2004
  • Run Time: 349 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (149 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001Y9Z9W
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,995 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



The second of the BBC's well-regarded serialisations of John Le Carré's espionage bestsellers, Smiley's People is slightly less compulsively watchable than Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy if only because Tinker, Tailor had a much stronger plot premise (who is the mole in British Intelligence?) than Smiley's People, which takes a very long time to come into focus. Retired spymaster George Smiley (Alec Guinness) wanders around Europe and visits a succession of desperate or eccentric characters as he plays a game which finally leads to another confrontation with and a possible victory over his Moriarty-like Soviet arch-nemesis Karla (an expressive but silent Patrick Stewart).

Directed by Simon Langton and coscripted by John Hopkins and Le Carré this is a leisurely mystery. It offers a cannily generous central performance from Guinness, who never takes off his scarf and does his best to fade into the background while a succession of striking character players hold centre screen; but slowly and by sheer presence he begins to dominate the panoramic view of European treachery, deception, and disappointment. Among the terrific supporting cast are Michel Lonsdale, Mario Adorf, Vladek Sheybal, Michael Gough, Alan Rickman (a tiny, early role as a hotel clerk), Beryl Reid, Ingrid Pitt, Bernard Hepton, Michael Elphick, Rosalie Crutchley, Michael Byrne, Bill Paterson, and Maureen Lipman. Smiley's People is more interested in character than thrills, with each cameo contributing another view of the human cost of the cold war: most of the old friends Smiley seeks out react to his reappearance by saying they never wanted to see him again, and victory is only possible because Smiley discovers that his opposite number has a weakness that makes him almost sympathetic. It was originally broadcast in six hour-long episodes, and its intelligent approach works better if you watch episode-length chunks, letting one sink in before going on. --Kim Newman

Product Description

Starring: Alec Guinness, Mario Adorf, Eileen Atkins, Anthony Bate, Michael Byrne, Rosalie Crutchley, Michael Elphick, Barry Foster. Directed by: Simon Langton. The bespectacled spymaster is once more called from retirement to come to the aid of the 'Circus' - and he returns with a vengeance. The murder of an migr Soviet General who was also a British agent, sends him digging into the past on a twisted trail across Europe that moves, inexorably, towards a final showdown with his old adversary, Karla of Moscow Centre. Sir Alec Guinness, the definitive Smiley, brings John le Carre's greatest creation to life in this acclaimed dramatisation. Compulsive to the end. DVD Extras: John Le Carre & John Irvin (director of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) interview footage (approx 28 mins duration).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
203 of 205 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drama as it should be 21 Jun 2006
By S. Lindgren VINE VOICE
Flawless. And I don't say that about many things. This is what the BBC used to do so well, and quality never dates. Smiley's People, and it's illustrious predecessor remain two of the all-time great dramas. They take an exclusive place amongst the best performed pieces I have ever seen. No, I won't review the story: I don't think that's possible in a few words. Suffice to say former head of the Circus (MI6) is brought out of retirement to clean up the mess caused by the murder of a former associate, and in so doing, is pitted once again against his opposite number in (we assume) the KGB.

The acting is a masterclass. Perfection. Not one jarring note, not one slightly questionable piece, even in the most minor roles. The late Sir Alec Guiness naturally ocupies the most attention, as is right and proper, but the supporting cast were outstanding as well. I hear complaints in some quarters that the role of George Smiley was 'too easy' for Sir Alec. If this is too easy, I'd love to know what difficult is supposed to be. The role is superb, but it required an unique talent to be convincing, and it is a tribute to Guiness's mesmerising ability that he made it seem so natural. Small wonder people thought he made it look easy: he did. That doesn't mean it was though.

The direction is also a statement work. Pacing is slow, as it should be to do this complex and convoluted story justice. If you're expecting something simple, with lots of fights, guns, chases and such like, or have a 2 minute attention-span, look somewhere else. You have to be patient. If you are, you will be slowing drawn in, and it will not let go. It is beautifully shot, beautifully lit, and the audio levels (always very tricky to get right) are spot on and unobtrusive: you just take them for granted.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long overdue for release in the 'States 2 Dec 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This series, along with "Tinker, Tailor..." was, is, and will remain the defining work in the Cold War genre. Who better to have played Smiley than Sir Alec Guiness? Who better to have scripted this tour through the dismal, melancholy world of British Intelligence, and the silent fight they waged against the Soviet Union to no applause and less appreciation than David Cornwell? Stodgy and correct; quiet and demure, Guiness' Smiley defined the real-world application of high-stakes spy work as no 007 lark ever could. The screenplay, supporting cast, cinematography and score did what I wouldn't have believed possible: top "Tinker, Tailor."
The die was cast for me as a teenager reading "The Looking Glass War," and has been solidified with these books and the splendid television movies produced since. I watched as our PBS stations aired "Smiley's People" not long after "Tinker, Tailor," and once more in syndication on local channels. I have not seen it since, and that is a great shame. A former American Cold Warrior who saw my share of the clock's chime at midnight in desolate places while watching the Soviet Navy's every move, I ask again -- I implore the holders of the series' rights -- release this (and Tinker, Tailor) in the United States, please! So many here no longer understand or care to know what those years were like, and Smiley's People can in some small way enlighten while it entertains.
Rob Davies
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57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've Run out of Superlatives 19 July 2005
This has to be one of the most masterful pieces of TV drama ever created. Superbly shot, outstandingly scripted (no surprise as Le Carre himself worked on it), brilliantly paced but most of all oh-how-amazingly acted. Even the most minute, fleeting role is played with extraordinary panache - actors like Maureen Lipman, Patrick Stewart, Alan Rickman, Beryl Reid, Sian Phillips make brief but utterly luminous appearances. When this much care is taken over the small roles it is no wonder that the big parts, and the biggest part of all, Smiley himself are such towering performances. This has to be Alec Guiness's greatest performance and it says a lot about the dwindling power of TV as a medium that we have seldom seen is like since. This is a major cultural milestone and should not be missed by anyone.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real George Smiley 1 Mar 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Far from the benign old buffer portrayed in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, here we see George Smiley as written by John Le Carre. Both sides of Smiley are seen at their best in the scene with Connie Sachs and 'Hils'.
Some of the more subtle undercurrents in the piece are a joy to behold such as the transformation of Toby Esterhase from seamy dealer in dubious pieces of art to the man revived in the scenes with 'Herr Glaser'.
An absolute masterpiece which shows the BBC at the height of its powers before Checkland et al got their hands on it and fed us a seemingly constant diet of period costume dramas.
Drama which can be viewed again and again with each viewing revealing more of the subtleties for which Le Carre is rightly famous.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why can't they make them like this anymore? 14 May 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
If you have seen "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", you must follow it up with "Smiley's People". The focus is now firmly on the character of George Smiley, who shows a bit more emotion this time round yet remains rather inscrutable. The plot is a lot more convoluted than that of "Tinker, Tailor..." and it won't harm your enjoyment if you can read a synopsis before watching. But part of this programme's charm is the fact that it doesn't spoon feed the viewer.

The quality of the production is superb, from the writing, to the cinematography, to the direction and even the opening credits. However, the biggest joy is the acting. Although Alec Guinness wasn't convinced he was right for the role of Smiley (as revealed in the DVD extras), his performance unequivocally says otherwise. He provides an acting master class in subtlety and there are some lovely little comedic touches too, such as when he tries out the chair in the art shop. Barry Foster (Van der Valk) also makes a big impression in his (brief) appearance as the flashy new head of MI6, Saul Enderby. But perhaps my favourite is Bernard Hepton brilliantly reprising and developing the role of Toby Esterhase, transforming him from a proud weaselly individual into a man of whom he and others could genuinely be proud.

"Smiley's People" is a long and complex series and the sensible advice would be to take time and mull over or even revisit each episode before watching the next. However, if like me, you'll find yourself so absorbed that it'll be hard not to watch it all in one go. Enjoy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Most enjoyable. Thank you. DjW
Published 2 days ago by Douglas J. Warth
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Published 23 days ago by a f stott
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 26 days ago by Michael W
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 26 days ago by Mrs. Marie A. Hancocvk
5.0 out of 5 stars The second of two Treasures!
The second of the George Smiley miniseries staring Sir Alec Guinness. Best of the BBC's TV releases!
Published 1 month ago by Hammer Mechanic
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Perfect viewing and just as good as I remembered when it was on the BBC
Published 1 month ago by susan dickinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Smiley's People DVD
Like the Smiley series by John Le Carre, very good thrillers. This BBC version is the best & one of the last features with Alec Guiness.
Published 2 months ago by cstman
5.0 out of 5 stars High quality, old school drama
I have recently developed a strong taste for the wave of Nordic Noir detective / political dramas washing from the shores of our Scandinavian neighbours, enticed by their... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Woodster
4.0 out of 5 stars Smiley Remains His Gnomic Self
‘Smiley’s People’ relies on some knowledge of the earlier ‘Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy.’ Ostensibly they are different plots, different stories, but not only is the culmination of... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Nicholas Casley
5.0 out of 5 stars Smiley's People
A follow up to Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy. A little slow off the mark but stay with it, it's well worth while.
Published 4 months ago by Mr N Brundrit
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