The Incongruous Spy - Adaptations



  • In 1965, Martin Ritt directed the first film adaptation of a John le CarrĂ© novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, with Richard Burton as protagonist Alec Leamas.
  • In 1966, Sidney Lumet directed The Deadly Affair, an adaptation of Call for the Dead, with James Mason as Charles Dobbs (George Smiley in the novel).
  • In 1969, Frank Pierson directed The Looking Glass War, with Anthony Hopkins as Avery, Christopher Jones as Leiser and Sir Ralph Richardson as LeClerc.
  • In 1984, George Roy Hill directed The Little Drummer Girl, with Diane Keaton as Charlie.
  • In 1990, Fred Schepisi directed The Russia House, with Sean Connery as Barley Blair.
  • In 2001, John Boorman directed The Tailor of Panama, with Pierce Brosnan as Andy Osnard, a disgraced spy, and Geoffrey Rush as emigre English tailor Harry Pendel.
  • In 2005, Fernando Meirelles directed The Constant Gardener, with Ralph Fiennes as Justin Quayle, set in the slums in Kibera and Loiyangalani, Kenya. The poverty so affected the film crew that they established the Constant Gardener Trust to provide basic education to those areas. John le CarrĂ© is a patron of the charity.
  • In 2011 Tomas Alfredson directed Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman as George Smiley. The film was released on 5 September 2011 at the Venice Film Festival and in the UK on 16 September 2011.


  • In 1979, the BBC adapted Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for television, with Alec Guinness as George Smiley in a six-part series. Two years later, in 1981, he reprised the role in Smiley's People. The BBC did not adapt The Honourable Schoolboy, the middle book of the Karla Trilogy featuring Jerry Westerby (Joss Ackland from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), because production in East Asia would have cost too much.
  • In 1987, Peter Smith directed the television adaptation of A Perfect Spy (BBC), with Peter Egan as Magnus Pym, and Ray McAnally as Rick.
  • In 1991, Gavin Millar directed A Murder of Quality (Thames Television), with Denholm Elliott as George Smiley, and Joss Ackland as Terence Fielding.


  • The 1994 BBC radio adaptation of The Russia House features Tom Baker as Barley Blair.
  • The Complete Smiley is an eight radio-play series, based upon the novels featuring George Smiley, that commenced broadcast on 23 May 2009 on BBC Radio 4, beginning with Call for the Dead, with Simon Russell Beale as George Smiley, and concluding with The Secret Pilgrim, in June 2010.
  • Damian Lewis has recorded a radio adaptation of A Delicate Truth for BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime to be broadcast in May 2013.

Read more about this topic:  The Incongruous Spy

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