Novelist John Le Carré created one of literature’s most fascinating characters in Alec Leamas, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’s main heavy, who is on a final, fateful mission in East Germany. In Martin Ritt’s movie version, now out on Criterion Blu-ray and DVD, Richard Burton embodies Leamas with a morbid gravitas for the ages. In the following short excerpt from an exclusive, exceptionally wide-ranging interview with Le Carré, recorded for Criterion in 2008, he talks about his inspiration for the rueful Leamas. Then watch a clip from the film, in which Burton brilliantly elucidates his character’s philosophy—or rather lack thereof.
Liv Ullmann Recalls “Shattering” Moments on the Set of Shame
While working on Ingmar Bergman’s devastating antiwar film, the actress developed an emotionally intense chemistry with her costar Max von Sydow.
The Real-Life Rage That Fueled Lee Grant in In the Heat of the Night
In this excerpt from a new interview, the actor talks about how she channeled her political anger in the role of a distraught widow in Norman Jewison’s Oscar-winning crime drama.
Writing with the Body: Mikey and Nicky as an Actors’ Showcase
Elaine May populated her gangster-film masterpiece with acting heavyweights who could bring spontaneity to their roles. Critics Richard Brody and Carrie Rickey talk about her approach to performance in this clip.
How Hitchcock Pulled off a Shot for the Ages
Award-winning cinematographer John Bailey discusses the complications that Alfred Hitchcock faced trying to execute one of the most ambitious shots in his filmography.