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The Looking Glass War (1969)

Pia Degermark , Christopher Jones , Frank R. Pierson  |  PG |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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The Looking Glass War + John Le Carre's A Murder of Quality + The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (The Criterion Collection)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Pia Degermark, Christopher Jones, Ralph Richardson, Anthony Hopkins, Susan George
  • Directors: Frank R. Pierson
  • Producers: John Box
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • 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 (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008I34YTY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,529 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


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.

This product is manufactured on demand using DVD-R recordable media.'s standard return policy will apply.

This product is expected to play back in DVD Video "play only" devices, and may not play in other DVD devices, including recorders and PC drives.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold War performance from Christopher Jones 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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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Was this film made ten years too early? 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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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Spy Flick 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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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic British Cold War Fare March 5, 2000
By Nick
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Obscure Old Movie Based on Obscure Old LeCarre Book April 27, 2010
"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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars well done film
a fine example of spy telling by the master Le Carre, he weaves a tale and one is challenged to keep one end of the thread.
Published 2 months ago by will crow
4.0 out of 5 stars Le Carre / Smiley
Purchased to round out collection of Le Carre novels featuring George Smiley that have been filmed. As was the book this is not a happy story. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Laurie S. (Australia)
4.0 out of 5 stars i was curious
I have always liked cold war stories. This one was based on a true story and was one of the first films Anthony Hopkins made.
Published 20 months ago by mgx
5.0 out of 5 stars Great spy movie showing the callousness of the spy masters
Looking Glass War is an excellent spy movie that shows the indifference to human life of the higher ups who send a young man on a mission with no thought to his safety. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Ripley
3.0 out of 5 stars So - what really happened?
This movie has promise - a strong cast and interesting story - yet never really seems to add up to much. Read more
Published on April 13, 2012 by Written Word
5.0 out of 5 stars angela morelys music score

the looking glass war is not only a great movie but also includes a great music score that as a jazz musician i feel would be very much appealing to anyone who... Read more
Published on March 14, 2011 by Joseph M. Manone
5.0 out of 5 stars Understandably misundertood film
If you're looking for a film which captures the gritty, tawdry mechanics of espionage in post-war Europe, this is a pretty fair adaptation of leCarre's book. Read more
Published on April 13, 2010 by D. Snoke
4.0 out of 5 stars Underseen but quite good
The Bottom Line:

A gritty spy thriller that eschews gadgetry and gimmicks to focus on the nuts and bolts of espionage and the egos of the men who send spies overseas to... Read more
Published on August 10, 2009 by One-Line Film Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth watching
I thought that with Hopkins it would be at least fair, but it is typical of the worst of British productions - slow, wandering, insipid.
Published on March 22, 2009 by Leonard Crouch
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre adaptation of Le Carre
The Looking Glass War is a mediocre adaptation of John Le Carre's novel of the same name. The acting is stilted and awkward, the screenplay poor, and the whole thing feels... Read more
Published on November 23, 2007 by BluesFan
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