Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

Director: Martin Ritt

Starring: Richard Burton, Clair Bloom, Oskar Werner, Sam Wanamaker

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Brace yourself for greatness!

Plot: British agent Alec Leamas refuses to come in from the cold war during the 1960s, choosing to face another mission, which may prove to be his final one.

My Rating: 9/10

Would I watch it again? Definitely!

This is the best spy film of the 60s outside of the Bond franchise. In many ways it's better than the Bond pictures because it's deadly serious, caustic and cold. It's brilliantly executed and it gives you the feeling that this is probably closer than anything else in film that illustrates the reality of being a spy. Watch the clip above and he illustrates it beautifully. He's cynical and, after years of being in the business, he has every right to be. TSWCIFTC doesn't sugar-coat anything.

Burton is magnificent here. The story is taut and matter-of-fact. The film makers don't hold your hand through the process Burton travels. You have to figure stuff out on your own. I particularly like his building his cover section of the film. In most films they'd somehow explain to you what's going on but here they just do it and let you connect the dots yourself. The B&W photography just makes it colder. Magnificent. I love this film and recommend it as a mandatory viewing for anyone interested in the genre of spy films; specifically 60s spy films. I haven't seen a finer example albeit there are some good ones. For example, Alec Guinness played retired spy, George Smiley, in two excellent TV mini-series, TINKER, TAYLOR, SOLDIER, SPY (1979) and SMILEY'S PEOPLE (1982). Seek them out. If you like films that stimulate your intellect, these are a must.

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