Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Synopsis: In the early 1970s during the Cold War, the head of British Intelligence, Control, resigns after an operation in Budapest, Hungary goes badly wrong. It transpires that Control believed one of four senior figures in the service was in fact a Russian agent - a mole - and the Hungary operation was an attempt to identify which of them it was. Smiley had been forced into retirement by the departure of Control, but is asked by a senior government figure to investigate a story told to him by a rogue agent, Ricky Tarr, that there was a mole. Smiley considers that the failure of the Hungary operation and the continuing success of Operation Witchcraft (an apparent source of significant Soviet intelligence) confirms this, and takes up the task of finding him.
Director(s): Tomas Alfredson
Production: Focus Features
  Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 35 wins & 93 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
122 min

You weren't followed?


Better come in.

Trust no one, Jim.

Especially not in the mainstream.

Sit down.

I understand you still have

one H ungarian identity running?

I do.

I want you to go to Budapest.

'This is not above board.

'Nobody else knows.

'They're after my head, Jim boy.

'Do you understand?

'I have had an offer of service.

'A Hungarian general

wants to come over.

'I would lik e you to meet him.'

He has some information

that I need, J im.

What information?


'He has the name of the mole

'the Russians have planted

in the British intelligence service

'right at the top of the Circus.

'There's a rotten apple, Jim.

'We have to find it.'


Would you witness this for me?

I wish I could done more, Control.

You did all you could, Percy.

Well, a man should know

when to leave the party.

What about Smiley?

Smiley is leaving with me.

You little prick, Esterhase.

Gentlemen, shall we start?

U nder Secretary Lacon

is ready for you, Sir Percy.

The Treasury don't understand.

Why can't the intelligence service

simply put in a request

for a general increase in funding

and then you account

for the spend on your special operation?

Operation Witchcraft

needs to remain secret.

- It's a fiefdom of its own.

- Yes, that's what's worrying us.

The whole thing's

very unaccountable, isn't it?

And this London house

that nobody knows the address of,

is that really necessary?

Now more than ever.

We need to protect our Soviet source.

So where do you propose we meet?

In a caf?

The rent and rates on this house

have doubled.

We spent millions on nuclear warheads.

We're asking

for a few thousand for a house.

I wonder if Karla has the same problem

with the Treasury at the Kremlin.

Look, nobody underestimates

the importance of the job

you chaps are doing.

But what happened

in Budapest last year,

that was a disaster.

With respect, sir,

it wasn't one of your civil servants

that got killed, was it?

Now this isn't about soldiers

in trenches any more.

- We're the front line now...

- Roy!

For 25 years we've been the only thing

standing between them and Karla

and Moscow

and the third bloody world war.

Look, the Minister's very pleased

with your progress so far.

He's less pleased, though,

with the lack of progress

with our American cousins.

You see,

in their eyes,

you're still a leaky ship.


'Someone on the line for you, sir.

Seems urgent. '

All right, well put him through.

- Hello?

- 'Ls this U nder Secretary Lacon? '


My name's Ricki Tarr.

- 'What do you want? '

- I need to meet you.

If you need to confirm who I am,

you can talk to my boss at the Circus,

Peter Guillam.

But only Guillam, no one else.

You got clearance for that?

Well, I'm not bloody

chaining it up outside.

Mind you, no better off in here

with this bunch of bloody cut-throats.

They'd have the gold out of your teeth.

Thought I'd pop in and catch a glimpse

of the new girl before Bland gets to her.

Ah, yes. Belinda the blonde.

- Has he seen her yet?

- Of course he has.

Came down first thing this morning.


- Peter Guillam.

- 'Hello, Peter, this is Oliver.

'Just ringing to find out...

'So Winston

Churchill saved your life, Edie.'

'I was working in the kitchen,

getting dinner ready.

'And he was late, you see.'

- 'During a raid? '

- 'During a raid, you see.'

'He said,

"Why aren't you in that shelter?"'

- 'Why weren't you? '

- 'Well, because... '

I was sorry to hear

about Control, Mr Smiley.

'He said Tarr called him

from a phone box.'

He said there's a mole,

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Bridget O'Connor

Bridget O'Connor (18 January 1961 – 22 September 2010) was a BAFTA-winning author, playwright and screenwriter. She may be best known for the play The Flags, and her posthumously Oscar-nominated adaptation, with her husband, Peter Straughan, of the book Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for the film of the same name. She died in 2010, aged 49, from cancer. In 2012, she posthumously won the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay along with her husband. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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