The Spy Who Came in From the Cold: 50th Anniversary Review

Spy_coldLast October, “Bridge of Spies” was released in cinemas. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie is a solid spy-thriller set in the 1960s. It portrays James Donovan (Tom Hanks), a New York attorney assigned to defend Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), who was accused of committing espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union. If you’re looking for sheer entertainment with something slightly more compelling and cerebral than the 007 series, Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” satisfies. But if you’re looking for a spy-thriller that digs deeper into the complexities and ambiguities of the Cold War, you might want to reach further back into the catalogue for a masterpiece that emerged in the midst of those global tensions and popular fears that defined the period.

It was 1965 and the Cold War was in full swing. The Cuban Missile crisis was fresh on everyone’s mind. President John F. Kennedy had only recently been assassinated fueling myths that the Communist leader Fidel Castro or some other Soviet agent had murdered the leader of the free world. Meanwhile, the John Birch Society, created by the owner of a powerful oil company, Koch Industries, was accusing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. of being a Communist agent and denounced desegregation as a communist plot. Overseas, the United States was escalating its military presence in Vietnam as Communist insurgents led a nationalist revolt throughout the country.

This was the backdrop to the 1965 release of “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold”, a bold film rendition of the John le Carré novel by the same title. The story tells the controversial tale of one agent’s experience operating in the dangerous espionage world of West Berlin and the brutal hypocrisies of the Western intelligence services in their efforts to combat communist influence. In 2006, Publisher’s Weekly declared The Spy Who Came in From the Cold the “best spy novel of all time.” (Read More)

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