Tag Archives: George Smiley

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 73. On Impulse.

We’ve all been there: that moment of madness that overtakes us with such force that we have no choice but to submit to its will. I don’t know what drives you, my reader, to such behaviour; but for me it’s the need for a book. Not just any book – but one book that I need – must – get my hands on.

Last week it was The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. After seeing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I just had to get my hands on some classic Cold War fiction.

As it turned out, I ended up buying three more books.

Advertisements

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 72. On Smiley.

No, not the emoticon but the character: John Le Carre’s famous spymaster, George Smiley. Coming out of a screening of the recent adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, I thought about fictional characters authors are most famous for. Fleming has Bond, Lee Child has Jack Reacher, Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes.

For people of a certain age, Sir Alec Guinness’s portrayal of Smiley was the benchmark by which Gary Oldman would be judged. But now Le Carre’s creation has a new lease of life, and  I would love to see him return for another adventure.

Classic characters will live forever.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 64. On Spy Stories.

With the release of the movie version of John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the return of Spooks to the BBC (its 10th and final season), there is, for me, a renaissance of the spy thriller. The Bourne trilogy of movies resulted in a more pared-down, gadget-free James Bond, focusing more on the people involved in the business of spying than outrageous plotting.

You see, spying is a sleazy industry: keeping secrets from some, extracting them from others, without letting your emotions get in the way. It can come at a price, though.

You may lose your humanity.

 

The Name of The Rose, and Other Stories.

The Name of The Rose, starring Sean Connery

I was looking through the weekend’s TV listings before heading into work last Saturday, just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on any nuggets. My DVR was preprogrammed to record my current favourites: Merlin on the BBC, Downton Abbey on ITV. Usually a movie appears from out of left field, showing at some ungodly hour of the night or morning.

I whooped with joy when I saw that RTE Two had Sean Connery’s movie, The Name of the Rose, showing at ten after midnight Sunday night, Monday morning. It’s been a long time since I’d this little-seen gem: a medieval murder mystery, based on the novel by Umberto Eco.

Connery and Slater as William of Baskerville and Adso of Melk

Now, I’ve tried reading Eco’s philosophical detective novel. I picked it up after first seeing the movie. I put it down after only getting through fifty or so pages of it. Last year I picked up a different copy and I got further. A bookmark nestles at page 102. I’ll finish it some day. I promise.

But it’s a classic Connery movie. To most, he is James Bond. To me, he is 007 and much, much more. An Oscar winner for The Untouchables, Connery brings his distinctive voice to all types of characters, usually without diluting his Scottish accent. He’s played Spanish, Irish, Russian and English – all in Scottish. That’s why we love him.

Anyway, back to The Name of the Rose. I preset my DVR and away to work I went. I mentioned to some customers that it was on later and I was really looking forward to seeing it again.

Needless to say, when I came back home, I found that my DVR failed to pick it up. It was on the TV all right, but it didn’t record. Damn you, UPC! Everything else recorded except the one thing that wasn’t going to be repeated later on in the week. I don’t pay my bill on time for service like this.

Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy".

I made it my Monday mission to hunt down a copy – but to no avail. HMV didn’t stock it, Tower Records never heard of it, and my local Xtravision proved equally fruitless. There was nothing else to do but go online. Hello Amazon.co.uk! I ordered a copy, along with two other gems from TV times gone by.

The BBC adapted two of John Le Carre’s novels in the late 70s and early 80s: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People, with the late Sir Alec Guinness as spymaster George Smiley. I remember being gripped by their complexity when I was a wee nipper. Unlike Eco, I read both novels after viewing the TV adaptations. Le Carre is a better writer of spy thrillers that Ian Fleming, but that’s my opinion.

So why did I rush out and order a copy of a movie my machine couldn’t record? The answer is, like me, simple. I have no patience. It will be a long time before TNOTR comes on TV again. I want to see it – and I want to see it now.

But I have to wait two weeks.