The Spy Who Came In from the Cold 

Drama | English | 112 minutes


Alec Leamas is a burnt-out British spy  operating in West Berlin. He is recalled to London. Expecting to retire, Leamas is ordered to do one more spy mission in East Berlin –  to damage the reputation of Hans-Dieter Mundt,  a powerful East German intelligence officer. Attempting to convince the East Germans that he wants to defect, Leamas takes on the role of an embittered, depressed, alcoholic, fired from his job.  Leamas even takes a low-paying   job as a library clerk  where he has an affair with a Communist co-worker, Nan Perry.   The plan works: Leamas  defects. In East Berlin Leamas is fiercely interrogated by Fiedler and other Communist officials.  Leamas presents evidence  that Mundt is a double agent, working with the British. A trial is held accusing Mundt of subversion. Leamas is expected to testify. Nan Perry, suspecting  Leamas is in danger, flies to East Berlin to be with him. Mundt beats the rap while Leamas and Perry  are both accused of being British spies.  They are arrested but manage to escape. Their big hurdle is to climb over the infamous Wall and return to the safety of West Berlin.       

Richard Burton (Alec Leamas) / Claire Bloom (Nan Perry) / Oskar Werner (Fiedler) / Peter van Eyck (Hans-Dieter Mundt)
Why Stream This Film?
The Cold War has spawned many good films. The Spy Who Came In from the Cold is one of the best!
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 89%
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Richard Burton)
  • BAFTA Awards: Winner, Best British Film; Best British Actor (Richard Burton); Best Cinematography (Oswald Morris)
  • Golden Globe Awards: Winner, Best Supporting Actor (Oskar Werner)
  • National Board of Review: Listed, Top Ten Films of the Year
  • Writers Guild of America: Nominated, Best Screenplay (Paul Dehn, Guy Trosper)
THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM the  COLD is an excellent contemporary espionage drama of the Cold War. It achieves solid impact via emphasis on human values, total absence of mechanical spy gimmickry, and perfectly controlled underplaying.


Thank director Martin Ritt for delivering the popular novel of John le Carré in a tight and engrossing motion picture. It’s not only  true to the book but also is so sharply staged and directed that it looks like a documentary film.
Bosley Crowther

The New York Times

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