The Spy Who Came In from the Cold

Genre: Mystery and Thriller, Drama; Starring: Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner; Director: Martin Ritt; Author: Paul Dehn, Guy Trosper; Runtime (in minutes): 112; MPAA Rating: Unrated; Distributor: Paramount Pictures

John le Carré’s best-selling novel became this intentionally bleak, black-and-white spy non-thriller about a moody British spy stationed in Cold War West Germany. Burton is sexily morose, and if director Martin Ritt (Hud, Norma Rae) plays down the suspense, he and his star nonetheless pull you into a fascinatingly crabbed, paranoid world. The EXTRAS on Criterion’s two-disc edition of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold include a superb new interview with le Carré, who talks with serene frankness about Burton having ”thrown a wobbly” (i.e., a fit of anger) and of the ”undying animosity” between the actor and Ritt. B+

Originally posted November 26 2008 — 12:00 AM EST

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