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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Guinness still reigns in the role he defined., 25 Mar 2012
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This review is from: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy / Smiley's People Double Pack [DVD] [1979] (DVD)
Le Carre requires an expansive approach to translating his tales into film. These two BBC efforts benefit from the several hours devoted to unfolding each of the stories. And very successful efforts they are. Guinness's understated subtlety and that rich, expressive voice capture Smiley to the fingertips (e.g., the occasional displacement behavior of briefly removing his spectacles and fiddling with them and similar quiet "business" or even a smile or a glance that can ever-so-occasionally and ever-so-fleetingly remind you of Colonel Nicholson in "Bridge on the River Kwai" or even [yes, believe it or not] "Dutch" Holland in "The Lavender Hill Mob" [the smile that Smiley give to Peter Guillam when he first sends him to the Circus to surreptitiously retrieve certain tell-tale documents]). The supporting cast is well chosen all around (especially, Ian Richardson, who allows the inner demons of Bill Haydon to peek out from behind the mask of weary irony; Michael Jayston as Peter Guillam; and Hywel Bennett as Ricki Tarr). The settings are moody, suitably moist and overcast, and they give a feel of the texture of the London in that era. Whatever the merits of the recent "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" movie of 2011 (Gary Oldman, principally) or demerits (trying to tell a complex tale about many personalities in a couple of hours), it just cannot rival the expansive, unhurried BBC unfolding. (SPOILER ALERT: Perhaps the most impairing departure driven by commercial film's time constraint is the handling of the Spy's fate: i.e., dubiously substituting the long-distance sniper-shooting death at the end of the story for the up-close-and-personal broken neck shown in the TV film and implied in the novel). You have to wonder how many viewers of the recent movie who had not yet read the novel could actually follow so compressed a script as the 2011 film used.
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