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The Looking Glass War


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Editorial Reviews

The adaptation of John Le Carre's bestseller in which a Polish defector is promised political asylum if he will go back behind the Iron Curtain.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Pia Degermark, Christopher Jones, Ralph Richardson, Anthony Hopkins, Susan George
  • Directors: Frank R. Pierson
  • Producers: John Box
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: SPE
  • DVD Release Date: August 7, 2012
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008I34YTY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,644 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By gobirds2 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 3, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This is an excellent cold war film competently acted, well scripted and neatly directed. It is a superb adaptation of John Le Carré's best-selling novel. Paranoia runs rampant here. Christopher Jones is brilliant as the civilian turned spy. Christopher Jones should have gone on to greater things. His pinnacle as an actor came in David Lean's epic "RYAN'S DAUGHTER." Anthony Hopkins and Ralph Richardson are also featured.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By David Thomson on July 9, 2005
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
The Looking Glass War is a mediocre film. I got the impression that the producers were not sufficiently committed to the project. John Le Carre's name may not have been so marketable as it was a few years later. It's ironic that Christopher Jones is barely known to anyone under the age of fifty. Many thought he would become a major star. The same holds true for Pia Degermark. Both Jones and she, in real life, endured many wasted years of drug abuse. Still, one wonders if they had enough acting talent to play roles that did not revolve around their gorgeous and youthful looks. Oh well, we will never know. Anthony Hopkins who was merely a supporting actor, needless to add, is vastly more famous.

What is the movie about? Christopher Jones portrays a Polish immigrant wishing to remain in Great Britain. The secret service will help him achieve this goal if he will become a spy. They want him to sneak into East Germany and take pictures of military installations. This offer never makes any sense. Anthony Hopkins helps to train Jones' character and eventually become his friend. The great Ralph Richardson stars as the over the hill spy master wanting to relive the excitement of his earlier World War II days. Some reviewers claim that The Looking Glass War was heavily edited. This theory seems plausible. The unfolding of this story will constantly bewilder any rational thinking person. Who should see this movie? Anthony Hopkins fans will enjoy his superb work. He alone almost makes the effort worthwhile. What if you just want to watch an engrossing spy yarn? If that's the case, look for another film. Give The Looking Glass War a pass.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Uncle Chino on January 30, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Just finished watching The Looking Glass War. I had never heard of this movie but I am a big fan of John LeCarre and his books and movies. This movie is definitely up to par with the others though I put Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy at the top of any realistic or true spy/espionage movie with The Russia House at the bottom of the list.

This movie stars Anthony Hopkins and a very young Christopher Jones. It is very much a LeCarre movie and is not about the action, though it has some. It is slow of pace at times but not in a bad way. It is more of a character study than a James Bond type movie. The movie delves more into the dirty dark and nasty side of of the spy game and the use of human beings as fodder for an ends to a means.

Good performances all around and a good movie. Check it out.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Nick on March 5, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
What does a classic cold war movie need? To my mind, a shot of the West End of London, some cynical, dead-pan British spies, a plot from a Le Carre novel and a few shots of Eastern Europe (probably filmed in Essex or some such place). Add a dashing youngster to offset the cynics and, of course, a nasty ending leaving little room for faith in human nature. You have a classic.
If you like Harry Palmer of the Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin and the Billion Dollar Brain, chances are you'll love this. If you are a James Bond fan, maybe not. This is for the lover of the anti-hero spy rather than the dashing secret agent.
Two thumbs up as far as I'm concerned.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stephanie De Pue TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 27, 2010
Format: DVD
"The Looking Glass War" (1969) is an obscure old movie based on an obscure, old, early John LeCarre spy thriller of the same name. The British LeCarre, a hugely-talented writer who's had a long, long prolific career, is probably the greatest living practitioner of the spy genre, in which he has significant personal experience: he is best known for The Spy Who Came in From the Cold;Smiley's People and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, all of which have also been filmed. His book "Looking Glass," I suppose, is unpopular and obscure because it is a downer, another of LeCarre's meditations on how badly the top-heavy spy bureaucracy treat its "joes" in the field. So is this movie.

The movie, as the book, centers on Leiser, a Polish sailor stowaway who has snuck into England because of a pregnant girlfriend. He is located by a dated, obscure spy agency, still reliving their glory days of World War II, trained quickly, and sent into East Germany to find out if they have Soviet missiles. His mission goes wrong from its first moments.

But to begin at the beginning, it seems to me that screenwriter/director Frank Pierson himself went wrong from his first moments. He has eliminated most of LeCarre's backstory, the ever-entertaining midnight meetings of the high government mandarins, and, as well, eliminated, for whatever his reasons, LeCarre's most famous character, Smiley, who appears in the underlying book.
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