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The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

Unrated  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  16 December 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 9,642 users  
Reviews: 95 user | 60 critic

British agent Alec Leamas refuses to come in from the cold war during the 1960s, choosing to face another mission, which may prove to be his final one.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965)

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rupert Davies ...
Hans-Dieter Mundt (as Peter Van Eyck)
Beatrix Lehmann ...
Tribunal President
Old Judge
Tom Stern ...
CIA Agent
Niall MacGinnis ...
German Checkpoint Guard


Alec Leamas, a British spy is sent to East Germany supposedly to defect, but in fact to sow disinformation. As more plot turns appear, Leamas becomes more convinced that his own people see him as just a cog. His struggle back from dehumanization becomes the final focus of the story. Written by John Vogel <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis




Drama | Thriller


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 December 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Spion, der aus der Kälte kam  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


David Lodge says in his memoirs he had disastrous interview with Martin Ritt for the part of Patmore. See more »


In his defense speech of Mundt, the East German defense attorney (played by George Voskovec) says "Smiley was indeed Leamas's friend. He was also a planner in the section called Satellite Four... which operates behind the Iron Curtain." The term "Iron Curtain" would not have been used by officials in East Germany or any of the Soviet bloc countries to refer to the east-west divide. It was originally created by Winston Churchill and the phrase "behind the Iron Curtain" became a derogatory description of the east bloc countries and their socialist systems. The term "Iron Curtain" was seen as serving to keep people in and information out, and people throughout the West used the metaphor in that context. See more »


Alec Leamas: What the hell do you think spies are? Moral philosophers measuring everything they do against the word of God or Karl Marx? They're not! They're just a bunch of seedy, squalid bastards like me: little men, drunkards, queers, hen-pecked husbands, civil servants playing cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten little lives. Do you think they sit like monks in a cell, balancing right against wrong?
See more »


Referenced in Cluedo: The Spy Who Came in with a Cold (1992) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A Fiercely Intelligent and Engrossing Film
13 April 2001 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" is perhaps the best of the Cold War spy movies. Good writing coupled with brilliant performances make it that rare film based on a novel that is the equal of its predecessor. The uncompromising complexity of its story requires some effort on the part of the viewer but staying engaged in this great picture is well worth the effort.

24 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

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Who would like to see an remake of this? overfiend1976
Can't believe George Smiley was such a cold hearted b#$tard... sn939
Disturbing plothole mr Marble
Hard to comprehend whenim64
Can't follow the story... Euan1234
Poor image quality on DVD fahyr
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