John le Carré is the master of the spy thriller and as with his later novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy he created a masterpiece of suspense with this Cold War thriller. Set during the height of the red scare, this film masterfully turns paranoia into fear and back again. Featuring the remarkably talented Richard Burton as Alec Leamas, an agent who chooses to go back into the field against his instructions and finds himself hunted by more than just the Russians. The film also introduces le Carré’s trademark character, George Smiley, whose minor role here led to his increased significance in later stories. This isn’t the best adaptation of le Carré’s work, but it is still a great ride all the same.
Watchable and enjoyable, but not one you need to watch on repeat.
Probably much more frightening at the time of its release, it deserves…
3.5 out of 5