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The Looking Glass War (1970)

From the John le Carré novel about a British spy, who sends a Polish defector to East Germany, to verify missile sites.

Director:

Frank Pierson (as Frank R. Pierson)

Writers:

John le Carré (based on the book by), John le Carré (novel) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christopher Jones ... Leiser
Pia Degermark ... The Girl
Ralph Richardson ... Leclerc
Paul Rogers ... Haldane
Anthony Hopkins ... Avery
Susan George ... The Girl In London
Ray McAnally ... Under Secretary Of State
Robert Urquhart Robert Urquhart ... Johnson
Anna Massey ... Avery's Wife
Vivian Pickles ... Mrs. King
Maxine Audley ... Mrs. Leclerc
Cyril Shaps ... East German Detective
Michael Robbins ... Truck Driver
Timothy West ... Taylor
Frederick Jaeger ... The Pilot
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Storyline

During the Cold War, the British Intelligence receives a blurred photograph from East Germany taken from Hamburg and Director LeClerc (Sir Ralph Richardson) believes they are missiles. Their agent, Taylor King (Timothy West), who receives a film which might clarify the detail from a pilot in Finland, is found dead on the road, and the Police believe he was accidentally killed in a hit-and-run. LeClerc meets the Polish defector Fred Leiser (Christopher Jones), who jumped overboard from a ship expecting to have asylum and stay with his British girlfriend, who is pregnant, and decides to recruit him to cross the border and spy on the East German facility to check on the missiles. In return, he would have salary, insurance, and political asylum. Leiser is trained by the Agent and family man John Avery (Sir Anthony Hopkins), and soon he finds his girlfriend has had ended the pregnancy. When Leiser crosses the border, he meets up with Anna (Pia Degermark), a local, and they stay together in... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

"Why do we listen to them? Why do we fight their wars for them?" See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

M | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

8 February 1970 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A Guerra no Espelho See more »

Filming Locations:

Spain See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$168,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Black and White | Color (Eastmancolor) (as Eastmancolor®)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the novel, Leiser, the hero, is a man well into middle-age, and the point is made that all of the central characters (except for John Avery) are getting too old for their dangerous jobs. Originally, it was intended that Peter Finch should play Leiser, co-starring with James Mason (who had starred The Deadly Affair (1967) adapted from John le Carré's "Call for the Dead" novel), and under the direction of Jack Clayton, who had worked with both actors on The Pumpkin Eater (1964). Clayton's involvement was in the mid 1960s, and after he abandoned the project, saying it had been impossible to get a workable script, it lay dormant for a couple of years, during which time, Finch and Mason also dropped out. The solution which new Director Frank Pierson came up with was to make Leiser a much younger man, too young, rather than too old. However, his movie was not a success. See more »

Goofs

After Lieser slaps his girlfriend, he walks out of the room leaving the door open and the girl just stays still on the bed. When Avery goes to check if the girl is alright, the door is closed (so he knocks to get in) and the girl was in the same position she was before. See more »

Quotes

Leiser: You are spies? That's wonderful. I've never been a spy before. It will be a new experience for me.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Ring (2002) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
One of the better espionage films of the era
17 April 2001 | by kate2000See all my reviews

I am amazed that so many reviewers panned this film when TLGW came out.

While this film is very bleak, so was The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. TSWCIFTC had none of the whimsical touches that distinguish TLGW, and lacked the gritty underbelly that makes TLGW so much more believable, if even less romantic and reassuring.

While TSWCIFTC is more of an intellectual overview of The Game (until its dismal conclusion), TLGW spares no one.

Christopher Jones is excellent as the charming but unbalanced ne'er-do-well, who is exactly what British Intelligence needs.

Anthony Hopkins is so good, you'll forget Hannibal Lecter.

The entire ensemble cast is superb, with supporting players able to convey fully realized characters with only a few lines in most cases. The few characters who are not fleshed out seem to come from out of nowhere, as does Jones' character, echoing the mood of a man lost in a country he does not know - first England, then East Germany.

I particularly liked the fact that the film made England the dark, enclosed, maze of liars and opportunists, while E. Germany was shown alternately as open, pristine land and the property of deceptive invaders (the mirrors of the British). In addition, the film bluntly and confidently attempts to dissect patriots and their imitators: a rarity in 1970.

This film is not strictly an entertainment, but there are some fine, light moments between the characters played by Jones, Hopkins, Pickles and Richardson.

The Looking Glass War is a fascinating film, a tribute to an era and an author.


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