Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tinker, Tailor, ....

I haven't yet seen the new film of John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The cast list is full of fine British actors [Gary Oldman as Smiley, Colin Firth, Ciarán Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, etc.] and I will certainly see it at some point — but the reviews I've read thus far do give pause. Those who loved the book find inexplicable changes in the film and argue that too much plot is pressed into too little time. Reading about the new version did inspire me to re-watch the superb 1979 BBC miniseries. Alec Guinness was George Smiley in that one, with such players as Anthony Bate, Ian Richardson, Ian Bannen, Bernard Hepton, and Alexander Knox. It was perfectly written, cast, and acted. It does take about six hours but it is much easier to keep everything in mind watching it in a long evening instead of the seven weeks it took on Masterpiece Theater in 1980. The BBC Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is available from Amazon and can be rented from Netflix — although not Netflix streaming for some reason.