The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

Synopsis: 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.
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Director(s): Martin Ritt
Production: Paramount Pictures
  Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 3 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
112 min

Coffee, sir.

Why don't you go back and sleep,

Mr. Leamas?

We'll ring you if he should show up.

Maybe he'll come some other time.

We can have the police contact you.

You can be back here in 20 minutes.

You can't wait forever, sir.

He'll come with the workmen.

He'll come with the night crowd.

He'll come.

That's what you said last night.

Agents are not airplanes, you know.

They don't have schedules.

Didn't they teach you that in the CIA.?

He's on the run.

Mundt is after him at this moment.

Let him choose his own time.

Mundt may have caught him

like he's caught all the others.

Riemeck's not like the others.

You need some sleep, sir.

Look, if you want to go, go.

You've been very good.

I'll tell the Agency you've been damn good.

I'll be around.

- What's wrong? Why are the Vopos so close?

- I don't know.

What are your orders for giving covering

fire to protect a man, a man on the run?

If they shoot into the West,

we shoot back. That's all.

We cannot give covering fire.

That's the truth.

They tell us there would be war if we did.

I've got a man coming over tonight.

Here? At this crossing point?

It'd mean a great deal

if we could get him out.

There are still places

where you can climb.

Ah, not that kind. He,

He'll bluff his way through.

He's got papers, if the papers are any good.

A man with a bicycle.


Halt! Halt!

Why has Control called me back?

Control's pretty vexed

about Mundt liquidating Riemeck.

Then why doesn't he have the sense

to let his station head stay in Berlin...

and arrange for somebody

to liquidate Mundt?

- Pawson.

- Yes, sir?

- What section are you in?

- Personnel.

- Do you like it?

- Fascinating.

You get to know everybody's fate.

- What's mine?

- Better let Control tell you that.

It's not my job.

But you do know, of course.

Thank you.

Ah. Leamas.


- Coat.

- Mmm.

Thank you.

Well, do sit down.

You must be tired.

Ginnie's away, I'm afraid.

And this new girl,

she never warms the pot.


She's called Patrice. Imagine.


- It used to be two lumps.

- It still is.

And, of course, uh, no milk.

No milk.

Simply maddening, isn't it?

One wonders how they catch them all.


Salamon. Now Karl Riemeck.

Such a pity we lost him.

- Would you like a drink?

- I'll wait.

Can you still do that?

Hmm. I wonder whether

you're tired, burnt out.

Well, that's a phenomenon

we understand here.

It's like metal fatigue.

We have to live without sympathy, don't we?

We can't do that forever.

One can't stay out-of-doors all the time.

One needs to come in.

In from the cold.

I'm an operator, Control.

Just an operator.

There's a vacancy in Banking Section

which might suit you.

Sorry. I'm an operational man.

I'll take my pension.

I don't want a desk job.

- You don't know what's on the desk.

- Paper.

I want you to, uh,

to stay out in the cold...

a little longer.

Please, do sit down.

Our work, as I understand it...

is based on a single assumption that

the West is never going to be the aggressor.


we do disagreeable things...

but we're defensive.

Our policies are peaceful...

but our methods can't afford to be

less ruthless than those of the opposition.

Can they?

You know, I'd say, uh...

since the war, our methods,

our techniques, that is,

and those of the Communists,

have become very much the same.


I mean, occasionally...

we have to do wicked things.

Very wicked things indeed.

But, uh, you can't be less wicked...

than your enemies simply because

your government's policy is benevolent.

Can you?

What I have in mind for Mundt...

is a little out of the ordinary.

- You haven't met him, have you?

- Mundt? No.

Oh, well, he was here in '59.

He was posing as a member

of the East German Steel Mission.

- That was in Berlin.

- Mm-hmm.

And, uh...

how do you feel about him?

- Feel?

- Yes.

He's a bastard.


Robert Jones.



T. Roberts.

Leamas. Alec Leamas.

John Wilson.


Last time and the time before

I was seen by a Mr. Melrose.

My name's Pitt.

Melrose has flu.

Not much of a stayer, are you?

- The jobs weren't exactly the kind of job,

- Mr. Leamas...

fluent German isn't much use...

even in an experienced

sales representative...

who's frequently

speechless by lunchtime.

Vacancies for male nurses

at Battersea General.

Think I'd do better as a patient.

Ah. Here's one where

your languages might help.

Blantyre Institute of Psychical Research

on Candahar Road.

Five minutes on an 11 bus.

They want another assistant.

The librarian's a Miss Crail.

Well, I should gargle, Mama.

Yes. Yes, I know.

There's a lot of it about.


Yes. Yes. Good-bye, Mama.

Can I help you?

My name is Leamas.

I was sent from the Labor Exchange

by a Mr. Pitt as a possible new assistant.

Oh. You have your qualification form?


- You've used a card index?

- Now and then.

- Is your handwriting legible?

- Except at weekends.

Our books used to be shelved

and indexed under titles and authors.

But now Brigadier Blantyre

wants them rearranged...

and additionally indexed

under subjects...

with cross-references

to authors and titles.


Phantasms of the Living

by Gurney, Myers and Podmore...

had already been title-indexed

under "P" for "phantasms"...

and author-indexed under

"G" for Gurney, "M" for Myers,

"P" for Podmore.

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Paul Dehn

Paul Dehn (pronounced “Dane”; 5 November 1912 – 30 September 1976) was a British screenwriter, best known for Goldfinger, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Planet of the Apes sequels and Murder on the Orient Express. Dehn and his partner, James Bernard, won the Academy Award for best Motion Picture story for Seven Days to Noon. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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