50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
A captivating and complex Cold War spy drama,
This review is from: Spy Who Came in From the Cold [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
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.