Smiley talks to Toby

Just time for a brief post as it has been a very long and stressful day (it’s probably best if I don’t try to explain why). I’m going to pour myself into a bottle of wine when I get home. For some reason I thought of this clip, from the TV series Smiley’s People, which I thought I’d share because I happened to watch the entire series on DVD at the weekend. I think it’s beautifully done.

Just to set the scene, the series (based on the novel of the same name by John Le Carré) is set a few years after Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Intelligence officer George Smiley (Alec Guinnness) is in retirement, as is his former colleague Toby Esterhase (Bernard Hepton) who has adopted the identity of a dodgy art dealer. Smiley is called back into action when a former agent by the name of Vladimir is murdered on Hampstead Heath en route to an appointment with British Intelligence (aka “The Circus”). Smiley is told to find out what happened and hush it up, but a combination of detective work and intuition leads him to the realization that he may, at last, have stumbled upon a way of bringing down his opposite number in Soviet Intelligence, the enigmatic Karla. This scene, wherein Smiley and Esterhase meet up for the first time since they parted company with the Circus marks the point where Smiley decides to ignore his instructions to bury the case and embark on one last operation in the hope that he can at last locate Karla’s Achilles Heel. To find out more, you’ll have to watch the series, which unfolds slowly, but brilliantly…

 

 

6 Responses to “Smiley talks to Toby”

  1. Robert Kirshner Says:

    The Sandman needs a legend for a girl.

    I remember George Smiley saying that. 1982?

    Could have been yesterday.

  2. I watched the whole series on DVD a couple of years ago when off sick. It really is terrific. The plot differs slightly from the book, even though Le Carre wrote both, in that a few more action scenes are engineered, notably the rescue mission in Paris. But what really sticks in my mind is the connection between Smiley’s relationship/battle with Karla (Ben Kingsley) and with his (Smiley’s) wife. The final scene, when Karla drops the lighter he took from Smiley when they first met, a present to Smiley from his wife, makes that explicit.

    • telescoper Says:

      Karla was played by Patrick Stewart, but I agree that Smiley’s obsesson with Karla mirrors the failure of his marriage. I think this hits home at that moment at the end. When Toby tells him “You won, George” all he can muster is “Yes, I suppose I did”.

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