Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a 2011 English-language espionage film directed by Tomas Alfredson, from a screenplay written by Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan based on the 1974 novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré. The film stars Gary Oldman as George Smiley, and co-stars Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ciarán Hinds. Set in London in the early 1970s, the story follows the hunt for a Soviet double agent at the top of the British secret service.
The film was produced through the British company Working Title Films and financed by France’s StudioCanal. It premiered in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. The film received favourable reviews and was the highest grossing film at the British box office for three consecutive weeks.
Control, the head of British Intelligence (“the Circus”), sends agent Jim Prideaux to Hungary to meet a Hungarian general who wishes to sell information. The operation is blown: Prideaux is shot and captured by Soviet intelligence. Amid the international incident that follows, Control and his right-hand man George Smiley are forced into retirement.
Percy Alleline becomes the new Chief of the Circus, with Bill Haydon as his deputy and Roy Bland and Toby Esterhase as close allies. They have established their status by delivering apparently high-grade Soviet intelligence material, code named “Witchcraft”, about which both Control and Smiley were suspicious. Alleline exchanges Witchcraft material with the Americans to obtain US intelligence in return for the material. Control, already ill, dies.
Smiley is brought out of retirement by Oliver Lacon, the civil servant in charge of intelligence, to investigate an allegation by agent Ricki Tarr, that there was a long-term mole in a senior role in British Intelligence. Smiley interviews people who left the Circus at the same time as he and Control. One is Connie Sachs, who had been sacked by Alleline for accusing Polyakov, a Soviet cultural attaché in London, of being a Soviet agent. Another is Jerry Westerby, who had been duty clerk on the night Prideaux was shot. Westerby reveals he had rung Smiley’s house for instructions, but Smiley was away. Shortly afterwards Haydon had arrived at the Circus saying he saw the news on the tickertape at his club at 1am. Smiley realises that, because the tape would have been closed by 1am, Haydon must have heard the news from Smiley’s wife, with whom Haydon was having an affair.
* Gary Oldman as George Smiley
* Colin Firth as Bill Haydon
* Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr
* Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux
* Ciarán Hinds as Roy Bland
* Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam
* David Dencik as Toby Esterhase
* Stephen Graham as Jerry Westerby
* Simon McBurney as Oliver Lacon
* Toby Jones as Percy Alleline
* John Hurt as Control
* Svetlana Khodchenkova as Irina
* Kathy Burke as Connie Sachs
* Roger Lloyd-Pack as Mendel
* Christian McKay as Mackelvore
* Konstantin Khabenskiy as Polyakov