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.
Donald Richie Uncovers the Traces of a Lost Japan
In collaboration with director Lucille Carra, the renowned writer brought his impressionistic travelogue The Inland Sea—an unusual choice for a film adaptation—to the big screen.
A Palette That Sizzles On-Screen
Filmmaker Darnell Martin and writer Nelson George discuss how vividly Do the Right Thing captures the heat of a Brooklyn summer and the diverse skin tones of its cast of color.
A Genius of French Cinema Delivers a Career-Defining Performance
Raimu is at his subtle best in one of the most moving scenes in The Baker’s Wife, a moment in which the actor channels the collective despair of France’s working class.