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TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY (RE-PACKAGE)

4.4 out of 5 stars 325 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

"A smashing thriller" --The New York Times "Exhilarating" --The Washington Post

With ALEC GUINNESS as George Smiley

"One of the most madly atmospheric and enjoyably literate films ever done for television" --The Washington Post

No doubt remains: a mole has infiltrated the Circus, code name for the British Secret Intelligence Service. It can only be one of four men operating at the very highest level. Sidelined agent George Smiley is covertly tapped to root out the mole, a task that requires a painstaking dig through the double-blind world of Cold War-era espionage and his own past. Alec Guinness brilliantly captures the weary heart and steely soul of John le Carré’s master spy in an intricate drama hailed as one of the finest ever made for television.

Also starring Ian Richardson, Michael Aldridge, Joss Ackland, Ian Bannen, Bernard Hepton, Terence Rigby, Michael Jayston, Hywel Bennett, and Anthony Bate.


Special Features

Exclusive interview with John le Carré (20 min.)
production notes
glossary of main characters and terms
cast filmographies
le Carré biography and booklist

Product Details

  • Format: Closed-captioned, Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: October 25, 2011
  • Run Time: 324 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005DXCO94
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,753 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steven Hellerstedt on June 30, 2005
Format: DVD
Don't blink. Don't leave the room to attend to business with the television running. Hit the pause button. This is advice for those unfamiliar with the plot of John le Carré's TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY. There is a heck of a lot going on here, a basketful of characters and three major subplots introduced in the first two episodes of this six-episode mini-series.

TINKER, TAILOR is a sinuous story of a mole in high places in the British Secret Service, also known as the Circus to insiders. Called out of retirement, a rather premature retirement, we learn, George Smiley (Alec Guinness) is called on to uncover the British official selling secrets to the Soviet enemies.

In the interesting 2002 30-minute interview on disk one writer le Carré tells us that after the initially reluctant Guinness signed on everyone wanted to work on the project, and this mini-series is studded with great actors. Fortunately so, too, because this movie takes place around restaurant tables and in dingy `safe' houses more often than in exciting, exotic locales. This one belongs to actors who can deliver in tight close-ups much more so than to special effects wizards who can blow things up prettily.

At the center of it is Guinness, who, in my opinion, is simply brilliant. In the interview le Carré mentions that Guinness was always shaving lines off the script, reducing his role, so to speak. Wasn't good at memorizing lines. There's more to it than that, though. Guinness approach is minimalist to practical non-existence. I probably won't be able to convey it, but somehow Guinness makes little to no impression.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The opening shot sets the tone of the entire six hours. We see a dingy meeting room in an old London office building. The radiators are indiscretely visible, the paint is peeling off the walls, the lone cabinet looks creaky. Through the windows we see it's a cold grey day. A man sits at the table smoking a cigarette; he is soon joined by a second who sits diagonally opposite him. A third man arrives with a tea cup, saucer over the cup to keep the contents from splashing. A fourth man smoking a pipe arrives, sits at the head of the table sets down a folder and opens. The scene has lasted a minute, it was silent, no music was heard, though the first man coughed once or twice. The last man then says "We are ready to begin" and low horns begin sounding the theme music. This is director John Irvin's idea of a quick scene!
Later scenes move much more methodically, and involve long conversations about the plot, but that are framed beginning and end with chit-chat about the wife and the cottage. There is some action, but we almost feel it interferes with the plot and we want to get back to those conversations that contain the gold dust we need to sift out of the polite exchanges.
Alec Guinness is perfect as George Smiley. Slow and methodical and illustrating GS's quirks and mannerisms perfectly. Notice how often he takes off his glasses and wipes them clean. The rest of the cast performs admirably. On my first viewing, they had managed to hide some truly difficult dialogue (e.g. "Now, Young Mr. Guillam, are you happy in Brixton?" le Carre's weakness is realistic dialogue, for all his realism elsewhere) and turn them around into believable expressions of character.
Finally it seems the weather improved the production no end.
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Format: DVD
As far as the spy genre goes, the Cold War was the good ole days. Previous generations of spy thrillers from authors like Eric Ambler focused on the nefarious undertaking of spies from various Balkan countries and other corners of Europe, but with the onset of the nonshooting war between the West and the Soviet Union, the spy genre reached its zenith. Just before the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the ending of the Cold War, John LeCarre managed to perfect the spy novel in a series of great works. Two of these novels were brought together to produce two amazing television masterpieces: TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY and SMILEY'S PEOPLE. Smiley is the polar opposite of James Bond. Physically unattractive, elderly, unathletic, a cuckold many times over, not a master gunman, George Smiley nonetheless emerges as the quintessential master spy, with a razor sharp mind, always keeping his own counsel, and dissecting every situation with impeccable logic.

The success of the television adaptation was assured the second they recruited Alec Guinness to play George Smiley. The Smiley of the novels does not in most ways resemble Alec Guinness. Smiley is reported as resembling a frog, of always wearing expensive but ill fitting clothes, of being extremely fat, none of which is true of Guinness. But there is one way in which Guinness is perfect for the role, and which makes him a huge success in the series: Smiley is described by LeCarre as possessing a beautiful, sonorous, honey-like voice. It is no exaggeration to say that Guinness's voice dominates this series. Even if the series had done nothing else well, Guinness would have made the series a success.

Nonetheless, the production brought a great deal more to the table than Alec Guinness.
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