The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (film)
|The Spy Who Came in from the Cold|
Theatrical release poster by Howard Terpning
|Directed by||Martin Ritt|
|Produced by||Martin Ritt|
|Based on||The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
by John le Carré
|Music by||Sol Kaplan|
|Edited by||Anthony Harvey|
Salem Films Limited
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
Based on the 1963 John le Carré novel of the same name, the film depicts a British agent being sent to East Germany as a faux defector to sow disinformation about a powerful East German intelligence officer. With the aid of his unwitting English girlfriend, an idealistic communist, he allows himself to be recruited by the East Germans, but soon his charade unravels and he admits to still being a British agent—a revelation that achieves the ultimate objective of the mission. The screenplay was written by Paul Dehn and Guy Trosper.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold did well at the box office, received positive reviews, and received several awards, including four BAFTA Awards for Best Film, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction. For his performance, Richard Burton also received the David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actor, the Golden Laurel Award, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. The film was named one of the top ten films of 1966 by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures.
The West Berlin office of “The Circus”, under administrator Alec Leamas (Richard Burton), has not been doing well. He is recalled to London shortly after the death of one of his operatives. Leamas is seemingly drummed out of the agency. In reality, a carefully staged transformation of Leamas has been arranged by Control (Cyril Cusack), the agency's chief. Appearing depressed and disgruntled, alcoholic and low on funds, he is quickly spotted by the East German Intelligence Service as a potential defector.
Leamas accepts overtures from German communists to reveal British secrets for payment, and he is interviewed by an operative named Peters (Sam Wanamaker) at a coastal house in the Netherlands about what he knows. When the process is later moved to a country villa in East Germany, the interviews become less cordial. It appears Leamas has information that will implicate a powerful East German intelligence officer named Mundt (Peter van Eyck) as a paid informant of the British, but the information is spotty and it frustrates his interrogator, Fiedler (Oskar Werner). Mundt arrives at the compound and has both Leamas and Fiedler summarily arrested. The tables are then turned and Mundt in turn is shortly arrested.
A secret tribunal is convened to try Mundt, with Leamas compelled to testify. Fiedler presents a strong case for Mundt being a double-agent. However, Mundt's attorney (George Voskovec) uncovers several discrepancies in Leamas' transformation into an informant. Leamas' credibility collapses when his English girlfriend, Nan Perry (Claire Bloom), an unassuming and idealistic communist, unwittingly reveals that she has received payments from British intelligence. As Leamas' charade unravels and he is forced to admit he is still working as a British agent, Fiedler is escorted from the room as a complicit dupe and Mundt is vindicated.
Leamas initially believes he has failed in his mission and fears severe retribution from Mundt. But when Mundt releases him from his cell and provides an escape route for the couple, he learns his mission has actually succeeded: Fiedler was getting too close to exposing Mundt and had actually been the target all along. This comes as a surprise to Leamas, who has steadfastly insisted that Control could not possibly have run an agent in East Germany without him knowing about it. With this, the web he has been drawn into - and risk he has been placed in by his own superiors - become painfully clear. As he and the still idealistic Nan sit in a car waiting to be escorted from East Germany, she berates him as being involved in what amounts to the murder of a man, Fiedler, who was only doing his job. Leamas, agitated by her naiveté, erupts in an angry, self-loathing confession: "What do you think spies are?" he asks. "They are a bunch of seedy squalid bastards like me, little drunkards, queers, henpecked husbands ..."
Leamas and Nan are soon ushered to the Berlin Wall and given instructions how to safely escape. With Leamas nearly atop pulling Nan behind him, she is shot by Mundt's operative. Leamas freezes, urged by agents on both sides to return to the West. Instead, he begins to descend and is shot dead as well.
- Richard Burton as Alec Leamas
- Claire Bloom as Nan Perry
- Oskar Werner as Fiedler
- Sam Wanamaker as Peters
- George Voskovec as East German Defense Attorney
- Rupert Davies as George Smiley
- Cyril Cusack as Control
- Peter van Eyck as Hans-Dieter Mundt
- Michael Hordern as Ashe
- Robert Hardy as Dick Carlton
- Bernard Lee as Patmore
- Beatrix Lehmann as Tribunal President
- Esmond Knight as Old Judge
- Tom Stern as CIA Agent
- Niall MacGinnis as Checkpoint Charlie Guard
- Scott Finch as German Guide
- Anne Blake as Miss Crail
- George Mikell as Checkpoint Charlie Guard
- Richard Marner as Vopo Captain
- Warren Mitchell as Mr. Zanfrello
- Steve Plytas as East German Judge
- Richard Caldicot as Mr. Pitt
- Nancy Nevinson as Mrs. Zanfrello
- Michael Ripper as Mr. Lofthouse
The film closely follows the plot of the novel. One exception is that the name of the principal female character, "Liz Gold" in the novel, is changed to "Nan Perry," supposedly because the producers were worried about confusion in the media with his real-life wife, Elizabeth "Liz" Taylor.
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold took in $7,600,000 at the box office. The film currently holds 85% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 13 reviews.
Awards and nominations
|Academy Awards, 1966||Best Actor||Richard Burton||Nominated|
|Best Art Direction||Hal Pereira, Tambi Larsen, Ted Marshall, Josie MacAvin||Nominated|
|BAFTA Awards, 1966||Best British Actor||Richard Burton||Won|
|Best British Art Direction||Tambi Larsen||Won|
|Best British Cinematography||Oswald Morris||Won|
|Best British Film||Martin Ritt||Won|
|Best Film from any Source||Martin Ritt||Nominated|
|Best Foreign Actor||Oskar Werner||Nominated|
|British Society of Cinematographers, 1966||Best Cinematography Award||Oswald Morris||Won|
|David di Donatello Awards, 1966||Best Foreign Actor||Richard Burton||Won|
|Edgar Allan Poe Awards, 1966||Best Motion Picture||Paul Dehn, Guy Trosper||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards, 1966||Best Supporting Actor||Oskar Werner||Won|
|Laurel Awards, 1966||Dramatic Performance, Male||Richard Burton||Won|
|National Board of Review, 1966||Top Ten Film||Won|
|Writers Guild of America Awards, 1966||Best Written American Drama||Paul Dehn, Guy Trosper||Nominated|
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was released by the Criterion Collection on DVD on 25 November 2008 and on Blu-ray on 10 September 2013. Extras for this version include digitally restored picture and sound, an interview with John le Carré, scene-specific commentary by director of photography Oswald Morris, a BBC documentary titled The Secret Center: John le Carré (2000), an interview with Richard Burton from a 1967 episode of the BBC series Acting in the '60s, a 1985 audio interview with director Martin Ritt, a gallery of set designs, the film's theatrical trailer, and a booklet featuring an essay by film critic Michael Sragow.
- Erickson, Hal. "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965)". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "Awards for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 22 March 2013.
- "Review: 'The Spy Who Came in from the Cold'". Reviews. Variety. 31 December 1965. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
- "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 22 January 2013.
- The Criterion Collection
- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold at the Internet Movie Database
- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold at the TCM Movie Database
- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold at AllMovie
- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Spy Who Came in from the Cold at Rotten Tomatoes
- Criterion Collection Blu-ray review
- Criterion Collection DVD review
- The Movie Scene review