The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner, Sam Wanamaker Movie Review

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

Left Me too Cold

Alec Leamas (Richard Burton) had been running the West Berlin of the Circus but finds himself called back to London and seemingly demoted. But it is part of a plan to make him appear to slip in to depression and penniless alcoholism so that he appears to be ideal as a defector by the East German Intelligence Service. But as far as Leamas is concerned his mission is to appear to defect so that he can retrieve information but things take a strange turn when he is interrogated by Peters (Sam Wanamaker) about a specific man, East German intelligence officer named Mundt (Peter van Eyck) who Peters believe is working for the British. It gets even messier when Leamas' naive girlfriend Nan Perry (Claire Bloom) is drawn in to this mess as it is discovered that she has received payments from British intelligence.

Ever since I was young growing up in Britain during the 70s and 80s I have been aware of the name John le Carré as there were TV series based on his novels and of course movies and there were those who loved his espionage thrillers. I am not one of them and have always struggled to get into the series and movies which have been based off of his novels and as such whilst "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" is held in high esteem or at least rated highly it didn't do a lot for me.

Claire Bloom in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

Now "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" ticks a whole lot of boxes; it has a twisting storyline which keeps you on your toes when it comes to good guys, bad guys and what the mission which Leamas really is on. There is also a great look and Martin Ritt has delivered one of those crisp looking black and white movies which uses the tones and the darkness to great effect to create the atmosphere whilst also taking advantage of some beautiful location shots. And there are good performances all around by with Richard Burton delivering a steely performance as Leamas which makes him appealing but also a little world weary of what he has been doing.

But the trouble is that whilst "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" ticks all these boxes it not one drew me in and had me gripped by the twisting tale of cold war espionage. Now that maybe because it all seems too precise, to rehearsed rather than have an air of naturalness to the dialogue. Or maybe it is because this is an era of time which means next to nothing to me. But for some reason "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" ends up a movie which I can appreciate but not find overly enthralling.

What this all boils down to is that whilst I can appreciate "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" as a piece of film making it didn't work as well as a piece of entertainment. And the reason being is that I am not a huge fan of John le Carré's espionage novels.