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British spy, Alec Leamas, seeks vengeance on the East German Intelligence Service during the height of the Cold War. A Television adaptation of John le Carre's novel "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold".
Alec Leamas (Richard Burton), a British spy, is sent to East Germany, supposedly to defect, but in fact to sow disinformation. As more plot turns appear, Leamas becomes more convinced that his own people see him as just a cog. His struggle back from dehumanization becomes the final focus of the story.Written by
John Vogel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The source novel is one of John le Carré's best known books. The title phrase has gone into the lexicon of popular culture. See more »
In his defense speech of Mundt, the East German defense attorney (played by George Voskovec) states "Smiley was indeed Leamas's friend. He was also a planner in the section called Satellites Four, which operates behind the Iron Curtain." The term "Iron Curtain" would not have been used by officials of East Germany or other Soviet bloc countries to refer to the east-west divide. Originally created by Winston Churchill, the phrase "behind the Iron Curtain" became a disparaging characterization of the east bloc countries and their socialist systems. It was seen as serving to keep people in and information out, and people mostly throughout the West used the metaphor in that context. See more »
[Approaching Leamas who is sitting on a bench]
Do you like birds? The ones with the white collars are wild. The others are domesticated. With people it's the other way around.
Bird-watching's one of my hobbies. I often come here.
Do you also often come to Wormwood Scrubs Prison at eight o'clock in the morning to watch birds?
Yes, jailbirds. They're my other hobby.
Only the young ones, surely!
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The last reviewer wrote: Burton is cast as Alex Leamas, a nerve-dead, aged secret operative operating out of West Berlin. After a routine assignment goes awry, Leamas is sent home and out of the service. He struggles to try to live a normal, average life as a librarian's assistant, but he can't make it work for him (something that is not helped by his chronic alcoholism). This fact is made forcefully clear when he winds up beating a local grocer and is sentenced to jail time. Slowly but surely, he allows himself to be pulled back into the Cold War he operated in, not suspecting or maybe not even caring that his superiors are setting him up for a fall.
I think this is wrong. I believe the Burton character, Leamas, working with his UK spy agency, pretends to be kicked out of the spy service and acts as if he is going to seed so he can be "turned" by the enemy and complete his secret mission.
Regardless, it's a great film with a great performance by Burton as the world-weary spy who has seen it all, and Claire Bloom as the idealistic UK communist party member who has no idea how ugly it is out there.
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