Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

A withered and tried intelligence officer returns home to London after losing one of his undercover agents while trying to cross the East Berlin border. Following a brief respite, on orders of headquarters, he descends into an alcohol fused spiral and romances a communist sympathizer, in an attempt to stage a defection to the Soviet Union and capture the officer responsible for his agent's murder. "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" is an icy and utterly realistic (especially in the face of the then surging Bond series) adaptation of John le Carré's espionage thriller, handled exquisitely, in stark black and white, by directing great Martin Ritt. Le Carré's labyrinthian plot is presented clearly, and features a masterful performance from Richard Burton, playing the detached and disillusioned operative. Claire Bloom is also excellent as the naive innocent who becomes the government pawn. In addition to the great spy material, the technical details, and Burton's commanding performance, what elevates "TSWCIFTC" is its investiture in the tragic, human elements of its story.