Bear with me if this is old news to some of you - I was ten when this came out, and I wasn’t exactly digging into the LeCarré back then. However, I’ve read all his books over the last few years, so when I saw the miniseries while surfing for movies to add to my Netflix queue, I added them without really knowing anything about it.
What a great surprise! I thought it was hands-down the best adapataion of LeCarré I’ve ever seen. Tailor of Panama and Russia House are the others I’ve seen, and they were OK, but I didn’t get the “feel” of LeCarré while watching them, and other than Edward Fox I thought they both suffered from uninspired casting.
Not this time. Alec Guinness was pitch-perfect as George Smiley. The funny thing is, I always pictured Smiley as being fatter, but Alec Guinness looked heavier than I was used to seeing him, so he pulled it off.
All supporting characters were flawless - Connie, Toby Esterhase, Peter Guillam, Lacon, Percy, Bland, Ann - all as I pictured them.
Another great perk was seeing all of these character actors that I recognized looking 20 years younger. The guy from Waking Ned Devine (Ian Bannen) as Jim Prideaux, Joss Ackland (you’d recognize him) as Jerry Westerby, Mr. Book from Dark City / Mr Warren from Brazil (Ian Richardson) as Bill Haydon.
But the best part - appearing as Karla and not saying a single word during his one scene (the flashback where he takes George’s lighter): Patrick Stewart.
If you’re looking for a good miniseries to rent, look no further. Smiley’s People is up next in my queue, and it appears as though it’s the same production and actors - sweet. (I didn’t see The Honourable Schoolboy, so I guess they didn’t make that one).