Thursday, 19 September 2013
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold 
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Martin Ritt’s fabulous adaptation of John Le Carre’s renowned novel and a personal favourite of mine, was that rare spy thriller that succeeded in painting a thoroughly realistic picture of the grimy and shadowy cloak-and-dagger world of espionage, with its share of lies, betrayals, secrecy, realpolitik, ethical dilemmas, psychological tussles, existential crises, and above all, utmost loneliness. The film begins with a brilliantly choreographed long take that places us right into the last assignment of Alec Leamas (Richard Burton), the station head of the West Berlin office of the Circus, where a German double-agent working for them, is killed while trying to cross over to the West. He is called back to London, and is asked to be part of an elaborate plan, wherein he would need to convince the Germans that he is depressed and frustrated with his job and life and is ready to defect, upon which he would need to supply information that would bring down Mundt (Peter van Eyck), Leamas’ feared counterpart in East Berlin. However, as it turns out, he was just a pawn to begin with in a complex and murky game of deception and one-upmanship. Meanwhile Leamas falls for a pretty, lonely lady (Claire Bloom) who too gets dragged into the dirty business. Burton was superb as the cynical, disillusioned and detached protagonist who has long stopped believing in anything. Ritt made terrific use of intricately composed long takes using gently roving cameras, moody B/W photography, cold and bleak environs, and a fine jazz-based score, in order to perfectly create a brooding Cold War atmosphere and zeitgeist where there was no right and wrong, and nothing was as they seemed.
Director: Martin Ritt
Genre: Thriller/Spy Thriller