Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
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Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

This week sees the release Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a cinematic adaptation of John le Carré’s classic espionage thriller of the Cold War era.

This week sees the release of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a cinematic adaptation of John le Carré’s classic espionage thriller of the Cold War period. First published in 1974, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is one of several le Carré novels featuring the iconic character George Smiley. Smiley is a middle-aged, perspicacious intelligence expert.  Le Carré introduced Smiley at a time when critics and the public were eager for a more realistic brand of espionage fiction, in contrast to the glamorous world of Ian Fleming's James Bond.  Smiley can be understood as an anti-Bond in that Bond is more a projection of male fantasy than a realistic government agent. George Smiley, on the other hand, is quiet, mild-mannered and middle-aged. He lives by his wits and, unlike Bond, is a master of bureaucratic manoeuvering.

During a fling with the wife of a Russian intelligence officer, British agent Ricki Tarr discovers that there is a Soviet mole within the upper echelons of the ‘Circus’, as the British Intelligence Service is known to its members. Retired intelligence officer George Smiley in enlisted to investigate. Smiley must conduct his enquiries without the knowledge of Circus leadership, which is headed by Percy Alleline and his deputies Bill Haydon, Roy Bland, and Toby Esterhase, any one of whom could be the mole.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was inspired by le Carré’s experiences of working in British Intelligence in the 1950s and 60s. During this period, the Cambridge Five traitors (Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt, John Cairncross and Kim Philby) were exposed as KGB moles.  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the first novel in le Carré’s Karla Trilogy. The second and third parts are The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People.

In 1979, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was adapted as a ground breaking television series by the BBC, featuring Alec Guinness as Smiley.  Guinness won a Bafta for his ­portrayal.

Alec Guinness as Smiley: 'These aren't the moles you're looking for.'

A cinematic adaptation of the novel was released in the UK and Ireland on 16 September 2011. The film is directed by Tomas Alfredson, whose previous work includes the chilling Nordic horror film Let the Right One In. Gary Oldman plays the role of George Smiley. The superb supporting cast includes Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ciarán Hinds and Stephen Graham.

Gary Oldman as Smiley

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Comments (12)

I have read and reread the book many times and I will have to see the movie when it makes the theaters in my area. Thanks for bring this movie to my attention. Great review.

Ranked #1 in Popular Culture

Thanks, Jerry. I'm going to see the film tonight. It's been getting great reviews.

A good review and a real encouragmeent to so see the film

MI-5, MI-6 who can tell the difference? That line came from a London police detective in a movie I watched the other night called The Bank Job. Le Carre was one of the best spy novelists.

Ranked #10 in Popular Culture

Superb work on this spy movie Michael.

Expertly done to entice me to see this flick.

"Let the right one in" is one of my favorite movies. Considering that this is another creation from him, I'll check out this film.

Excellent review on this movie. Well done. Voted up.

Ranked #1 in Popular Culture

I saw it last night and it has the same cold, Modernist style as Let The Right One In.

Thanks for sharing this Michael

good job- thanks

Ranked #4 in Popular Culture

Gary Oldman is a fine actor and if he could bring Dracula come to life then definitely he has the talent for this role. Excellent info about this spy film best on le Carre's novel, Michael.

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