The Looking Glass War (1969)
So le Carre books and movies are bleak, and grim and depressing. Good? Yeah, they’re good. Gloomy and oppressive? Also yes.
So the common thread between book and movie is the use of resources and agents ostensibly for patriotic high adventure when the reality was much more venial and petty. Turf wars and interdepartmental rivalry are much subtler in the movie but the callous use of a young foreigner to relive the glory days by obsolete braggarts highlights more topical social climes in the movie instead of the ragged cynicism about intelligence operations of the book. Christopher Jones was great as a late 60’s youthful idealist caught up in the mendacious schemes of an older generation. Le Carre’s conscience can be seen in the movie in Anthony Hopkins’ character through the gradual erosion of his convictions and eventual repugnance at his superiors. He is the witness to the callous manipulations behind the scenes and through him we see the consequences and ramifications of the capricious hypocrisy of intelligence work.
It’s a really good spy film of course but it pursues a more cerebral esthetic than a spy spoof or Bond movie.
TL;DR. It’s super-serious