Wednesday, January 4, 2012


A new version of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" by John Le Carré is now playing in theaters with Gary Oldman doing a marvelous job as George Smiley. But when it comes to adaptations of the books which feature the greatest character ever created by Le Carré, nothing compares to the televersions....

'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'
'Smiley's People'

Sir Alec Guinness

Earth Prime-Time

"Call For The Dead"

"A Murder Of Quality"

"The Spy Who Came In From The Cold"

"The Looking Glass War"

"Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

"The Honourable Schoolboy"

"Smiley's People"

"The Secret Pilgrim"

John Le Carré

From Wikiepedia:
George Smiley is a fictional character created by John le Carré. Smiley is an intelligence officer working for MI6 (often referred to as "the Circus" in the novels and films), the British overseas intelligence agency. He is a central character in the novels "Call for the Dead"; "A Murder of Quality"; "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"; "The Honourable Schoolboy"; and "Smiley's People", and a minor character in a number of others, including le Carré's breakthrough novel "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold", "The Looking Glass War" and "The Secret Pilgrim".

In September or October 1973, the events of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" take place, with Smiley successfully managing to expose the long-term Soviet agent, or "mole", codenamed "Gerald". The investigation revealed that Gerald, who was actually a senior member of the anti-Control faction that had taken over the Service the previous year, had passed an enormous quantity of high-grade intelligence to the USSR. At the end of this case Smiley became interim Chief of the Service in late November 1974 to clean up the resultant mess, rebuilding the organization's headquarters staff by use of trusted old-timers like Guillam, Doc di Salis, and Connie Sachs.

In 1975 or 1976, after the conclusion of "Operation Dolphin", which was described at length in "The Honourable Schoolboy", Smiley retired again from the Service. In "Smiley's People" he was brought back in late 1977 to investigate the death of an elderly Estonian general, nationalist activist, and erstwhile MI6 agent. A convoluted trail led Smiley to discover a human weakness in his nemesis Karla, whom he persuaded to defect to the West in Berlin in December 1977. This triumph is the highlight of his career.

Smiley was absent in the three Le Carré novels of the 1980s. He re-surfaced for a final time in 1990 when he appeared in "The Secret Pilgrim" chairing the "Fishing Rights Committee," a body set up to explore possible areas of cooperation between British and Russian intelligence services. Though he does not actually appear in 1989's "The Russia House", that novel is connected to certain aspects of Smiley's timeline via Ned, who is also a major player in "The Secret Pilgrim".

Le Carré introduced Smiley at about the same time as Len Deighton's unnamed anti-hero (Harry Palmer in the movie versions). This was a time when the critics and the public were welcoming more realistic versions of espionage fiction, in contrast to the glamorous world of Ian Fleming's James Bond.

Smiley is sometimes considered the anti-Bond in the sense that Bond is an unrealistic figure and is more a portrayal of a male fantasy than a realistic government agent. George Smiley, on the other hand, is quiet, mild-mannered and middle-aged. He lives by his wits and, unlike Bond, is a master of bureaucratic maneuvering rather than gunplay. Also unlike Bond he is not a bed-hopper; in fact it is Smiley's wife Ann who is notorious for her affairs.

When "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" was published, the reviewer of the Spectator described Smiley as a "brilliant spy and totally inadequate man".

Smiley is depicted as an exceptionally skilled spymaster, gifted with a prodigious memory. A student of espionage with a profound insight into the weaknesses and fallibilities of humans, highly sagacious and incredibly perceptive, he is very conscious of the immoral, grisly and unethical aspects of his profession.

In March 2010, while giving a talk on his life and works at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, Le Carré responded to a question concerning what became of Smiley by telling the audience that although he would like to think of Smiley as a Sherlock Holmesian figure, never having really retired, he acknowledged that to his mind, the character would now be "very old and getting past - certainly in his nineties". This accords with the later chronology. Le Carré envisaged Smiley now to be "keeping bees somewhere", still alive but very much retired.

From "Call For The Dead":
They had brought him in during the war, the professional civil servant from an orthodox department, a man to handle paper and integrate the brilliance of his staff with the cumbersome machine of bureaucracy. It comforted the Great to deal with a man they knew, a man who could reduce any colour to grey, who knew his masters and could walk among them. And he did it so well. They liked his diffidence when he apologized for the company he kept, his insincerity when he defended the vagaries of his subordinates, his flexibility when formulating new commitments. Nor did he let go the advantages of a cloak and dagger man malgré lui, wearing the cloak for his masters and preserving the dagger for his servants. Ostensibly, his position was an odd one. He was not the nominal Head of Service, but the Ministers' Adviser on Intelligence, and Steed-Asprey had described him for all time as the Head Eunuch.

This was a new world for Smiley: the brilliantly lit ­corridors, the smart young men. He felt pedestrian and old-fashioned, homesick for the dilapidated terrace house in Knightsbridge where it had all begun. His appearance seemed to reflect this discomfort in a kind of physical recession which made him more hunched and frog-like than ever. He blinked more, and acquired the nickname of 'Mole'. But his débutante secretary adored him, and referred to him invariably as 'My darling teddy-bear'.

Smiley was now too old to go abroad. Maston had made that clear: 'Anyway, my dear fellow, as like as not you're blown after all the ferreting about in the war. Better stick at home, old man, and keep the home fires burning.'


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