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766 Ratings

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Directed by Martin Ritt
United States, 1965
Drama, Thriller


John Le Carré’s acclaimed bestselling novel about a Cold War spy on one final, dangerous mission, played by Richard Burton in a career-defining performance, is every bit as precise and ruthless on-screen in this adaptation directed by Martin Ritt.

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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold Directed by Martin Ritt

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1966 | 2 nominations including: Best Actor in a Leading Role

National Board of Review

1966 | Winner: Top Ten Films

BAFTA Awards

1967 | 4 wins including: Best British Art Direction (B/W)

1967 | 2 nominations including: Best Film from any Source

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold is a fabulous, distinctive movie that revels in the precision and density of conversation as warfare. Talk and gesture are the characters’ livelihood in Le Carré’s world of Cold War espionage, and Ritt affords his superb cast the room to invest the language with the full virtuosic hall-of-mirrors ambiguity it deserves…
September 10, 2013
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As is often the case in Le Carré, everything that happens in the story is something that could actually happen (or that was drawn from real events), and there’s nothing glamorous about any of it. The story climaxes not with a gunfight or car chase, but with a frightening tribunal in an ugly room.
December 09, 2011
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The dangers of corrupt power struggles are not lost on the politically conscious Ritt; it’s a shame, then, that his presentation boils down to a cloud of monotonous disillusionment, far less layered (and exciting) than le Carré’s novel… Ultimately, the film collapses under its own unilluminating gravitas; its dreariness becomes not an antidote to Ian Fleming’s flash, but its broken-mirror reflection.
November 25, 2008
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