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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1965)



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This brilliant film features a stellar performance by Richard Burton and a sharp screenplay, an adaptation of a novel by John Le Carre. In contrast to the James Bond films, then at the early height of their popularity, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold takes a more realistic, cynical attitude toward espionage, portraying it as an unglamorous profession conducted by jaded individuals, more pawns than players in the game of political intrigue. That's not to say there isn't room here for a deviously twisted multi-layered plot and some sticky situations. It's a lot of fun watching Burton wind through all the deceptions.

The ending has stirred up a lot of discussion and conflicting opinions. It may disappoint some, but could it have ended any differently? At first, the actions of Alec Leamas (Burton's character) seem to lack logic. Upon reflection, however, perhaps these actions -- and their consequences -- are symbolic of what the film has been gearing up for all along.

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