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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (The Criterion Collection)
The Criterion Collection, Special Edition
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The acclaimed, best-selling novel by John le Carré, about a Cold War spy on one final dangerous mission in East Germany, is transmuted by director Martin Ritt into a film every bit as precise and ruthless as the book. Richard Burton is superb
as Alec Leamas, whose relationship with the beautiful librarian Nan, played by Claire Bloom, puts his assignment in jeopardy. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a hard-edged and tragic thriller, suffused with the political and social consciousness that defined Ritt’s career.
TWO-DVD Special Edition Features
- Restored high-definition digital transfer
- Selected-scene commentary featuring director of photography Oswald Morris
- The Secret Centre: John le Carré(2000), a BBC documentary on the author’s extraordinary life and work
- A 1967 interview with Richard Burton from the BBC series Acting in the 60’s,conducted by film critic Kenneth Tynan
- An audio conversation from 1985 between director Martin Ritt and film historian Patrick McGilligan
- Gallery of set designs
- Theatrical trailer
- PLUS: An essay by critic Michael Sragow
Tight and engrossing...true to the book and sharply directed. --New York Times
Burton gives one of his best screen performances. --Geoff Andrew, Time Out New York
- Aspect Ratio : 1.85:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- MPAA rating : s_medNotRated Unrated (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.25 x 0.5 inches; 4.8 Ounces
- Item model number : CRRN1775DVD
- Director : Martin Ritt
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC, Special Edition, Widescreen
- Run time : 1 hour and 52 minutes
- Release date : November 25, 2008
- Actors : Richard Burton, Claire Bloom
- Language : Unqualified
- Studio : Criterion Collection
- ASIN : B001EOQCJE
- Number of discs : 2
- Best Sellers Rank: #10,477 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
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I don't feel like there was any 'good guy' in this film. I know I'm supposed to root for the West, but I found myself rooting for both Fiedler and Alec to win. But they both lost.
I watched this film again after reading John Le Carre's latest book, 'Legacy of Spies'. This book tells the tale of the death of Alec Leamas and the British deception Operation of MI-6, and the group known as The Circus. I needed to review the events of that operation as told in this book, 'The Spy Who Came In From The Cold'. George Smiley plays a large part in this book and film. Mention Smiley's name and ears perk up.
Richard Burton plays Alec Leamas in this film. One of his best roles in film. His expressions give us the entire truth. Claire Bloom at thirty four, plays a teenager,which never made sense to me. She is not naive enough, one of the greatest errors in this film. Other than that the scene where Munda hits Leamas is not violent enough. Mundt beat Leamas senseless in the book, this was a hit to the head with a gun. But, we quibble. The best and the brightest in this film.
Recommended. prisrob 09-10-17
Top reviews from other countries
The film itself is excellent. It's based on John Le Carre's novel of the same title which centers around the utterly unglamourous and increasingly disillusioned agent in the service of the British Secret Service Alec Leamas. Leamas is brilliantly played by Richard Burton in a performance that earned him a highly deserved Oscar nomination.
Made in the mid 1960s, the film is set in the early years of the Cold War, just after the construction of the Berlin Wall and much of it takes place in East Germany. It's a slow and intelligent psychological thriller concerned mostly with who plays who in the web of spies and expertly played out on the screen by many greats of British acting (the supporting cast includes Clair Bloom, Bernard Lee, Cyril Cusack, Sam Wanamaker). An excellent film, even 50 plus years later and highly recommended for anybody who has enjoyed more recent adaptions of Le Carre's novels. However anybody expecting an action packed spy adventure will likely be disappointed.
The nature of the film if anything is purposefully 1950s Britain, its colours are dull grey, and its weather depressing. It is worth recalling that rationing in Britain finally ended in 1954; that the Second World War was a fresh raw nerve (our main protagonist Leamas is a veteran); the action of the novel takes place half a century ago. It belongs to a wholly dissimilar world from the one we know today. This is one of those films that makes you realise that “black & white” is not an old medium of filming, neither is it just a choice of film media; rather , if used well, it can be an entire art form unto itself. Darkness and the light, shadows and contrast are used to the fullest. This is where the plot requires your full attention. Things are not spelt out for us, and it requires a bit of work to piece it together, but that makes the payoff even more stunning.
This film was a paradigm shift in the genre if compared to the James Bond franchise. An excellent production that is well worthy of five stars.
Richard Burton gives an outstanding performance as Leamas, Burton playing the part of a man playing a part. Though we are invited to question where the man ends and the part he is playing begins.. The spy who has just had a failure in Berlin, but who is not ready to come in from the cold. His bosses ask him to stay in the field for one more undercover op, all in gritty but excellent black and white photography. He does what he needs to do to seem `turnable', as part of a scheme his handler has explained will help get rid of one of the top German agents... his journey of false information dissemination becomes one of self discovery as he starts to question just who is being used. His monologue near the end when he releases his true feelings about his profession makes you realize just how great an actor he could be, especially with this sort of deeply troubled and damaged character. Oskar Werner is simply mesmerising as the contact whom Leamas intends to manipulate, and Claire Bloom has a pivotal role that is utterly believable thanks to a note perfect performance that speaks much more than her words do.
It's a simply told, unfussily shot gem full of nuances, with great performances and a compelling story.. not a moment is wasted, and each frame holds exactly what it needs to. and then it has an ending that is sure to have you talking or thinking long after the credits fade. It might not be uplifting, but it is nonetheless unmissable.
Based on the novel by John Le Carre the script is full of tension and moves at a brisk pace. Martin Ritt did a masterful job of directing this complicated film. Espionage fans should definitely add this to their collection. I wll only add that it is black and white which add to the somber mood and that it is not a Bond type movie. Worth seeing!