Smiley's People  [DVD]
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George Smiley is once again called out of innocent retirement to trace an enemy infiltrator in the department where he was once the prize employee, the shy and retiring master of espionage moves forwards to investigate and finds himself going back over some very old ground
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
It would be an idea to read or watch "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" first. Although I feel "Smileys People" has more depth and is therefore more challenging and rewarding.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A fan of Tinker, Tailor, I was not disappointed with the sequel.
A different sort of story but well-constructed and, though moving slowly like its predecessor, it again... Read more
Great actor great author enough said, quick delivery all goodPublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
A most absorbing sequel to Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Sir Alec Guiness reprises role of George Smiley so well that he gives a breathing life-like characterization to this... Read more
Unfortunately "Smiley's People" is automatically reduced in acting prowess compared to "Tinker, Tailor... Read morePublished 3 months ago by MonkeyMan
A very good follow on to the earlier Tinker, Taylor.. TV series. Good acting by the cast in particularly Alec Guinness as George Smiley and Curd Jürgen as the General. Read morePublished 4 months ago by R T Firefly