The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was the first of David John Moore Cornwell’s novels to be made into a movie. When he began writing, he was still working with the Secret Intelligence Service and wrote under the pen name of John le Carré. Then there was a huge political scandal when a spy revealed the identities of British operatives to the Russians. David John Moore Cornwall was “outed” along with many others. He kept writing under his pen name. Anyway, the author was more than a little familiar with the inner working of how intelligence is gathered in the real world. His approach was to focus on the art of deception. The John le Carré novels do have sex and violence in them, with even the occasional explosion. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was released in an era when film censorship was still a concern. The writer had more than enough excellent cerebral material to create a high level of suspense to keep the audience entranced and without too much risk of the film not receiving the rating for which it was shooting. Le Carré commented that he was pleased with how well the film’s story kept to the book, and his presence on set was more of a sign-off as it involved only a modest amount of work. When The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was released, television was filled with secret-agent-themed programming. The Berlin Wall had only recently been built, and the Cold War had a very public face. Spy-themed television shows and movies provided an outlet for the high nervous tension of potential nuclear war to be released through escapism. The mood of the day leaned heavily to why The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was so popular. While The Spy Who Came in from the Cold received a few Oscar nominations, it didn’t win any. However, in England, a little closer to the front lines of the Cold War, it won four of the six British Academy of Film and Television Awards for which it was nominated. The age-old story remains of how transgressions with deception and lies affect the human spirit and explains, even now, long after the Wall has fallen, why this movie still holds up.
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