Tag: Richard Burton

What is Your Favorite Cold War Movie?

Crossposted at Daily Kos

If you’ve ever seen the movie The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, based on John le CarrĂ©’s famous spy thriller novel, you’ll remember the movie’s central character.  Played by Richard Burton, Alec Leamas is a British spy coaxed out of retirement.

If so, you’ll remember this unforgettable quote by Leamas

What the hell do you think spies are?  Moral philosophers measuring everything they do against the word of God or Karl Marx?  They’re not! They’re just a bunch of seedy, squalid bastards like me: drunkards, queers, hen-pecked husbands, civil servants playing cowboys and Indians to brighten their rotten little lives.  Do you think they sit like monks in a cell, balancing right against wrong?

Even as his cynicism and self-loathing comes through quite clearly, notice the explicit references to political ideology by Leamas – something so evident in movies and literature during the several decades of the East-West Cold War.