Spy Games: The Looking Glass War (1969)

One of the best films I saw last year was Tomas Alfredson’s TINKER TAILOR SOLIDER SPY (2011) based on John Le Carré’s novel of the same name. It stars Gary Oldman in a career defining performance that’s earned him an Oscar nomination. I hope Oldman takes home the award but I’m not here to talk about TINKER TAILOR SOLIDER SPY. I’m here to discuss another spy film based on a John Le Carré novel, Frank Pierson’s THE LOOKING GLASS WAR (1969).

In the world of John le Carré spies aren’t glamorous figures chasing bad guys with a martini in hand and a beautiful woman on their arm. They’re working stiffs with a wife at home and a chip on their shoulder. They perform dirty deeds and do thankless tasks for king and country that leave their moral compass spinning in confusion. If you’re expecting lots of action illustrated by explosions and fast car chases forget it. Espionage involves more mind than muscle and le Carré is well aware of that fact. John le Carré is often described as a British spy who left the game early and became a successful author but in his own words he describes himself as, “A writer who, when I was very young, spent a few ineffectual but extremely formative years in British Intelligence.” The experience obviously had a profound effect on him and he was able to use it to his advantage by writing a series of successful books that have frequently been adapted for the screen.

THE LOOKING GLASS WAR is based on John le Carré’s fourth novel and it tells the bleak story of a retired aging Polish spy named Fred Leiser who’s approached by a British intelligence organization and asked to reenlist. The organization is bleeding men and they don’t have the time or the finances to train many new recruits. They convince Leiser to sneak into East Germany to spy on the Soviets who may or may not be storing missiles there but his mission has little support. Once he crosses the border things start to go wrong almost immediately, which leads to a tragic finalé.

Frank Pierson’s film adaptation subverts le Carré’s cold war tale by making Leiser a young Polish hustler (Christopher Jones) eager to defect to the west so he can live in London with his girlfriend (Susan George) who is pregnant with their child. It’s apparent that Leiser has little regard for authority and no interest in cold war politics but a British intelligence officer (Ralph Richardson) is determined to pursue him anyway. Along for the ride is a younger spy named Avery (Anthony Hopkins), who develops a strained but sympathetic working relationship with Leiser. Avery is starting to have doubts about the spy game he’s been forced to play and Leiser’s independence both repels and fascinates him.

The mission hits a snag when Leiser disappears just before he’s supposed to head to East Germany but he ends up at his girlfriend’s apartment. What follows is one of the sexiest on screen encounters that I’ve ever come across. Christopher Jones and Susan George are a good-looking couple and they seem incredibly natural during the three minutes they spend tearing each others’ clothes off. The lightheartedness they convey makes their intimacy feel genuine. Unfortunately their union doesn’t end well. Jones’ character discovers that his girlfriend has aborted their child and he lashes out at her in anger. It’s an ugly moment that sends him into a spiral of self-doubt and self-pity but when the intelligence agency locates him and orders him to continue on his mission he agrees. Soon afterward Leiser is sneaking across the border into enemy territory. The second half of the film plays out in almost complete silence as we follow Leiser through Germany while he attempts to avoid capture and track down any extraneous missiles that the Soviets might be hiding. He’s briefly distracted by a cute German girl (Pia Degermark) that he meets on the road and the two share some intimate moments together but their happiness is short-lived. The film concludes with Avery railing against his superiors when the mission starts to go wrong giving Anthony Hopkins the opportunity to deliver one of his finest early performances. Christopher Jones is also very good as the naïve Leiser and the two actors work surprisingly well together. They both seem to understand the emptiness and despair that’s at the bottom of John le Carré’s espionage tale and they convey it beautifully.

Top: Christopher Jones and Susan George
Bottom: Pia Degermark and Anthony Hopkins

If truth be told, I seem to be in the minority when it comes to my appreciation of THE LOOKING GLASS WAR. When the film was originally released it received lackluster reviews. British critic Tom Milne referred to the film as “convoluted” and “totally tedious” while The New York Times described it as “odd, mannered and unconvincing.” Pauline Kael labeled it a “failure” and more recently Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant called the film “disappointing.” A quick glance at IMDB offers a wide range of opinion about Frank Pierson’s adaptation of THE LOOKING GLASS WAR but the main complaint seems to be that it differs from John le Carré’s original novel.

Frank Pierson definitely took a lot of liberties with the source material but his film stands on its own as a fascinating critique of the military system and the government’s cold war tactics. The indifferent and colorless world that Pierson depicts in THE LOOKING GLASS WAR is the same world you see in the latest le Carré adaptation, TINKER TAILOR SOLIDER SPY. In fact, both films share so much in common that I wouldn’t be surprised if Tomas Alfredson studied every frame of Pierson’s film before he made his own movie. The lifeless landscapes are similarly stark and swinging London has rarely looked more damp, repressive and stifling.

The year before THE LOOKING GLASS WAR was released marked a critical turning point in American history. In 1968 the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy shocked the country. Americans were quickly losing trust in their political leaders and anti-Vietnam war sentiment was at an all-time high. This civil unrest led to massive demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic convention that was marred by police violence and rioting. The Summer of Love had led to a winter of discontent for many young people who felt as if they were under attack. Casting a counterculture figure like Christopher Jones was a brilliant stroke of creative genius on Pierson’s part. Movie posters for the film boasted the tagline, “Why do we listen to them? Why do we fight their wars for them?” signaling that THE LOOKING GLASS WAR wasn’t just another espionage tale. In Pierson’s hands le Carré’s novel became a pointed critique of the times.

Frank Pierson had spent most of his career in television and only directed a few movies including the Barbra Streisand vehicle A STAR IS BORN (1976) and KING OF THE GYPSIES (1978). But he authored many critically acclaimed screenplays for a wide variety of films such as COOL HAND LUKE (1967), THE ANDERSON TAPES (1971) and DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1976), which won him an Oscar. In Pierson’s best work there’s a real sense of place that grounds his characters and gives them life. He obviously cares about the bumbling thieves, halfhearted criminals, ne’er-do-well and fringe dwellers that he writes about and he’s able to make us care about them too. THE LOOKING GLASS WAR shows him to be a capable and imaginative director interested in tackling subjects that the general public probably wasn’t all that eager to explore, particularly as entertainment, which was what typical spy films of the era offered. I hate to use the old cliché that the film was ‘ahead of its time’ but I think THE LOOKING GLASS WAR was. Even though it failed in the eyes of many critics when it was released the film seems incredibly fresh and smart today. It’s also an interesting footnote in the brief but fascinating acting career of Christopher Jones who received top billing when the movie was released.

Jones is somewhat of an enigma. He was a hugely popular up-and-coming actor in the ‘60s but he made a lot of enemies when he walked away from Hollywood in 1970 after appearing in David Lean’s undervalued masterpiece, RYAN’S DAUGHTER (Yes folks, I’m one of those weirdo’s who believes RYAN’S DAUGHTER is a masterpiece). By most accounts Jones suffered from a serious dependency on drugs and alcohol and he treated the women in his life abhorrently. But his story has yet to be written and at the moment it’s a swirling mass of half-truths, myths and rumors so I try to keep this in perspective whenever I come across the actor’s name online or in print. One rumor that has gained a lot of steam is the belief that Jones was dubbed in THE LOOKING GLASS WAR fueling the misconception that his real voice was ‘high-pitched’ but I find that hard to believe. Anyone who’s vaguely familiar with the actor’s television and film work would know that he had a naturally deep voice. Jones was also prone to mimicking James Dean and Marlon Brando so he mumbled his lines a lot. In THE LOOKING GLASS WAR he struggles to maintain a Polish accent but I have no reason to believe that all of his lines were dubbed. It’s possible that a few lines of dialogue aren’t his own but the voice I hear in the film sounds like Jones attempting  to mimic a Polish accent. If he was dubbed you have to wonder why they didn’t hire an actor who spoke Polish or at least hire someone who could manage a more convincing accent? I’m no audio expert so I’ll leave it up to viewers to decide for themselves if the dubbing rumors hold any weight but they ring false to me.

THE LOOKING GLASS WAR is available on video and DVD but it’s gone out of print. You can still find used copies of the film selling at Amazon for a reasonable price and it’s well worth picking up if you’re looking for another film that mirrors the cold war as it’s depicted in TINKER TAILOR SOLIDER SPY.

52 Responses Spy Games: The Looking Glass War (1969)
Posted By Vanwall : February 2, 2012 4:44 pm

A rarity, indeed. I always liked Jones from “Wild in the Streets”, and actually any movie role he did. Hopkins was very good, quite the le Carré type of agent. I’ve always seen a little of Peter Cheyney’s popular ‘Dark’ series of postwar novels in adaptations of le Carré’s work; Cheney’s had a little faster tempo, and was very similar in many ways, but more cinematic, I think, and perhaps that kind of feeling bled over to screenwriters.

Posted By Vanwall : February 2, 2012 4:44 pm

A rarity, indeed. I always liked Jones from “Wild in the Streets”, and actually any movie role he did. Hopkins was very good, quite the le Carré type of agent. I’ve always seen a little of Peter Cheyney’s popular ‘Dark’ series of postwar novels in adaptations of le Carré’s work; Cheney’s had a little faster tempo, and was very similar in many ways, but more cinematic, I think, and perhaps that kind of feeling bled over to screenwriters.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 2, 2012 5:20 pm

Vanwall – I really like Jones too. He was magnetic on screen. You just can’t take your eyes off of him and Hopkins was terrific in this. I’ve never read any of Peter Cheyney’s books and I’m not sure if I’ve seen any film adaptions of his work either but you’ve got me curious so I’ll look into him more.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 2, 2012 5:20 pm

Vanwall – I really like Jones too. He was magnetic on screen. You just can’t take your eyes off of him and Hopkins was terrific in this. I’ve never read any of Peter Cheyney’s books and I’m not sure if I’ve seen any film adaptions of his work either but you’ve got me curious so I’ll look into him more.

Posted By Vanwall : February 2, 2012 5:45 pm

His Lemmy Caution books were adapted for French cinema, Eddie Constantine was in them, nad you may remember Lemmy from Godard’s “Alphville”.

Posted By Vanwall : February 2, 2012 5:45 pm

His Lemmy Caution books were adapted for French cinema, Eddie Constantine was in them, nad you may remember Lemmy from Godard’s “Alphville”.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 2, 2012 7:08 pm

I love ALPHAVILLE but I don’t think I’ve seen any of the other Constantine/Lemmy films. In fact, I’ve only seen Constantine in maybe 2 or 3 films now that I think about it. I’d like to see more though. I’m going to seek out the Lemmy Caution films. It seems that some are available to watch at Amazon so thanks for the suggestion, Vanwall!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 2, 2012 7:08 pm

I love ALPHAVILLE but I don’t think I’ve seen any of the other Constantine/Lemmy films. In fact, I’ve only seen Constantine in maybe 2 or 3 films now that I think about it. I’d like to see more though. I’m going to seek out the Lemmy Caution films. It seems that some are available to watch at Amazon so thanks for the suggestion, Vanwall!

Posted By Susan Doll : February 2, 2012 11:41 pm

Love Christopher Jones, ever since his tv show The Legend of Jesse James. He was drop-dead gorgeous. Too bad his personal life killed his career.

Kimberly — you are the maven of 1960s movies. I look forward to your posts each week.

Posted By Susan Doll : February 2, 2012 11:41 pm

Love Christopher Jones, ever since his tv show The Legend of Jesse James. He was drop-dead gorgeous. Too bad his personal life killed his career.

Kimberly — you are the maven of 1960s movies. I look forward to your posts each week.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 1:02 am

Susan – Super kind of you to call me a “maven of ’60s movies” but it’s much appreciated. I can’t deny that it’s my favorite film decade.

It’s funny you should mention THE LEGEND OF JESS JAMES because I just got finished watching an episode of the show on Youtube. Now I want to see more! Jones looks darn good in a cowboy hat and I love a man in a cowboy hat.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 1:02 am

Susan – Super kind of you to call me a “maven of ’60s movies” but it’s much appreciated. I can’t deny that it’s my favorite film decade.

It’s funny you should mention THE LEGEND OF JESS JAMES because I just got finished watching an episode of the show on Youtube. Now I want to see more! Jones looks darn good in a cowboy hat and I love a man in a cowboy hat.

Posted By swac : February 3, 2012 8:48 am

Video Watchdog recently did an indepth analysis of the books and films featuring Lemmy Caution (and also of Constantine). Those issues would be worth seeking out.

Posted By swac : February 3, 2012 8:48 am

Video Watchdog recently did an indepth analysis of the books and films featuring Lemmy Caution (and also of Constantine). Those issues would be worth seeking out.

Posted By dukeroberts : February 3, 2012 8:55 am

Kimberly- I hate to nitpick, but you wrote that Martin Luther was assassinated in 1968. You may even delete my post if you like. I don’t mind.

Posted By dukeroberts : February 3, 2012 8:55 am

Kimberly- I hate to nitpick, but you wrote that Martin Luther was assassinated in 1968. You may even delete my post if you like. I don’t mind.

Posted By Kingrat : February 3, 2012 1:54 pm

I vaguely remember seeing THE LOOKING GLASS WAR years ago, possibly on TV minus the hot love scenes, and feeling more or less the same way as the original critics. Don’t know how it would look now.

Hate to disagree, but I thought the Oscar-nominated screenplay adaptation of TINKER TAILOR SAILOR SPY was a total botch. I’d read the novel and seen the miniseries and had trouble following the story. Instead of doing an action scene early, the film needed to establish characters and situation, which it failed to do, not even identifying our suspects until more than an hour had passed. Are some critics praising the film because it can be taken as “We’re just as bad as they are”? The audience I saw the film with (standard multiplex) went out of the theater talking about how disappointed they were. If you go back and read the reviews, a number of the favorable ones say things like, “You need to see it twice to understand fully . . . .” Yep, but many of us wouldn’t want to. I did not like the cinematography, either. The blue tone look for the office scenes is THE 2011 cinematography cliche.

Posted By Kingrat : February 3, 2012 1:54 pm

I vaguely remember seeing THE LOOKING GLASS WAR years ago, possibly on TV minus the hot love scenes, and feeling more or less the same way as the original critics. Don’t know how it would look now.

Hate to disagree, but I thought the Oscar-nominated screenplay adaptation of TINKER TAILOR SAILOR SPY was a total botch. I’d read the novel and seen the miniseries and had trouble following the story. Instead of doing an action scene early, the film needed to establish characters and situation, which it failed to do, not even identifying our suspects until more than an hour had passed. Are some critics praising the film because it can be taken as “We’re just as bad as they are”? The audience I saw the film with (standard multiplex) went out of the theater talking about how disappointed they were. If you go back and read the reviews, a number of the favorable ones say things like, “You need to see it twice to understand fully . . . .” Yep, but many of us wouldn’t want to. I did not like the cinematography, either. The blue tone look for the office scenes is THE 2011 cinematography cliche.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 3:36 pm

Swac – I was aware of that but having not seen the films, I’d rater watch them first before reading too much about them. I’m weird like that but I love VIDEO WATCHDOG.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 3:36 pm

Swac – I was aware of that but having not seen the films, I’d rater watch them first before reading too much about them. I’m weird like that but I love VIDEO WATCHDOG.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 3:41 pm

dukeroberts – It’s not a nitpick. I just forgot to add the man’s last name. It’s a simple typo on my part. They happen when you write 1600+ word articles. I will say that I always find it really funny when someone takes the time to read a lengthy piece like this & they only pause to comment on a typo. It seems strange to me but I’m glad you took the time to read it!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 3:41 pm

dukeroberts – It’s not a nitpick. I just forgot to add the man’s last name. It’s a simple typo on my part. They happen when you write 1600+ word articles. I will say that I always find it really funny when someone takes the time to read a lengthy piece like this & they only pause to comment on a typo. It seems strange to me but I’m glad you took the time to read it!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 3:50 pm

Kingrat – We’ll have to agree to disagree about TINKER TAILOR SOLIDER SPY. I had no trouble following the film and I thought it was terrific. I liked the subtlety of the writing and the way the plot slowly unfolded. Too many modern films beat you over the head these days with plot points telling you how you’re supposed to ‘feel/think’ about everything. The ambiguity of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY was refreshing to me. I saw it in a multiplex as well and most of crowd seemed to enjoy it as far as I could tell so I suppose it’s just a case of different strokes for different folks.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 3:50 pm

Kingrat – We’ll have to agree to disagree about TINKER TAILOR SOLIDER SPY. I had no trouble following the film and I thought it was terrific. I liked the subtlety of the writing and the way the plot slowly unfolded. Too many modern films beat you over the head these days with plot points telling you how you’re supposed to ‘feel/think’ about everything. The ambiguity of TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY was refreshing to me. I saw it in a multiplex as well and most of crowd seemed to enjoy it as far as I could tell so I suppose it’s just a case of different strokes for different folks.

Posted By Harvey Chartrand : February 3, 2012 4:42 pm

I interviewed Christopher Jones in the late 90s for Filmfax’s sister publication Outré and for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper.

I’ve pulled Jones’ quotes about THE LOOKING GLASS WAR.

“I did The Looking Glass War in Europe right after Three in the Attic. I don’t know why it wasn’t that big a success. Anthony Hopkins had a supporting role in the film, but he wasn’t that big a star at the time.

“I met producer Mike Frankovitch at his office at Columbia Studios and he told me he wanted me to star in his film. He said: ‘No matter what the director or anyone says, I want YOU for the part. Out of formality and courtesy to the director (so it won’t seem like we are usurping his power), could you fly to London and meet with Frank Pierson and do a reading with the cast?’ So I agreed to fly to London, met with Pierson, mumbled through a reading with the other actors — I wasn’t very good at cold readings — then flew back to L.A. I had about a week or two of free time. I was staying in a room on the top floor of the Chateau Marmont and I met Pamela Courson (Jim Morrison’s lady). We became ‘fast friends,’ excluding Jim. I then got word that they were ready to start pre-production (wardrobe, makeup tests, and so forth) so I got on a plane with Pam. Twelve-hour polar flight back to London.

“Filming commenced in Spain, with exteriors shot outside Madrid in Sorria. After a month in Spain, exteriors were finished. As I recall, it was Pia (Degermark), the little boy, the vopo guards — Russian police — and myself who were the only ones, besides the crew, on location in Spain.

“Back in London for the interiors, I broke up with Pam and started seeing Pia. Pam went back to Jim, of course, and they moved to Paris (which is why he’s buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery). While filming in London, I met Sir Ralph Richardson, Anthony Hopkins and the rest of the ‘tea heads,’ or should I say ‘redcoats’? I felt as though I was knee-deep in the enemy camp, but later got to know and like them. Nothing really sticks out in my mind, other than it was a long but pleasant and profitable shoot and experience.
______________________

Here is director Curtis Harrington’s explanation of Jones’ strange destiny.

HC: Tell us about directing rising star Christopher Jones in two 1966 episodes of his TV series The Legend of Jesse James – “A Burying for Rosie” and “The Lonely Place”. Were you surprised that Jones’ career was so short-lived?

CH: I worked with him at the beginning of his career and he was just fine then. I’ve always been told that Christopher Jones later took so much LSD that it affected his brain adversely and he became a little crazy. I haven’t seen him in all these years and I really don’t know what he’s like now. At the time I worked with him, he was married to Susan Strasberg. In fact, she gave birth to their child during the shoot. But that child turned out to be retarded. It was very sad. Susan was an adorable person. I loved her. And I liked Christopher very much. He was together at that point, a hard-working actor. He was very James Dean-like and influenced by Dean’s acting style. But then he went off the track somewhere…

Posted By Harvey Chartrand : February 3, 2012 4:42 pm

I interviewed Christopher Jones in the late 90s for Filmfax’s sister publication Outré and for The Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper.

I’ve pulled Jones’ quotes about THE LOOKING GLASS WAR.

“I did The Looking Glass War in Europe right after Three in the Attic. I don’t know why it wasn’t that big a success. Anthony Hopkins had a supporting role in the film, but he wasn’t that big a star at the time.

“I met producer Mike Frankovitch at his office at Columbia Studios and he told me he wanted me to star in his film. He said: ‘No matter what the director or anyone says, I want YOU for the part. Out of formality and courtesy to the director (so it won’t seem like we are usurping his power), could you fly to London and meet with Frank Pierson and do a reading with the cast?’ So I agreed to fly to London, met with Pierson, mumbled through a reading with the other actors — I wasn’t very good at cold readings — then flew back to L.A. I had about a week or two of free time. I was staying in a room on the top floor of the Chateau Marmont and I met Pamela Courson (Jim Morrison’s lady). We became ‘fast friends,’ excluding Jim. I then got word that they were ready to start pre-production (wardrobe, makeup tests, and so forth) so I got on a plane with Pam. Twelve-hour polar flight back to London.

“Filming commenced in Spain, with exteriors shot outside Madrid in Sorria. After a month in Spain, exteriors were finished. As I recall, it was Pia (Degermark), the little boy, the vopo guards — Russian police — and myself who were the only ones, besides the crew, on location in Spain.

“Back in London for the interiors, I broke up with Pam and started seeing Pia. Pam went back to Jim, of course, and they moved to Paris (which is why he’s buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery). While filming in London, I met Sir Ralph Richardson, Anthony Hopkins and the rest of the ‘tea heads,’ or should I say ‘redcoats’? I felt as though I was knee-deep in the enemy camp, but later got to know and like them. Nothing really sticks out in my mind, other than it was a long but pleasant and profitable shoot and experience.
______________________

Here is director Curtis Harrington’s explanation of Jones’ strange destiny.

HC: Tell us about directing rising star Christopher Jones in two 1966 episodes of his TV series The Legend of Jesse James – “A Burying for Rosie” and “The Lonely Place”. Were you surprised that Jones’ career was so short-lived?

CH: I worked with him at the beginning of his career and he was just fine then. I’ve always been told that Christopher Jones later took so much LSD that it affected his brain adversely and he became a little crazy. I haven’t seen him in all these years and I really don’t know what he’s like now. At the time I worked with him, he was married to Susan Strasberg. In fact, she gave birth to their child during the shoot. But that child turned out to be retarded. It was very sad. Susan was an adorable person. I loved her. And I liked Christopher very much. He was together at that point, a hard-working actor. He was very James Dean-like and influenced by Dean’s acting style. But then he went off the track somewhere…

Posted By dukeroberts : February 3, 2012 5:11 pm

Now it totally seems like a nitpick. I’m sorry. I commit typos all of the time and prefer to correct them. I always assume that other people would like to do the same. In this case, I only made an “ass” out of me.

The article as a whole was very interesting because I have never heard of the movie, nor have I heard of Christopher Jones. I blinked and missed Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy when it played here. I certainly won’t miss it when it comes out on DVD though.

Posted By dukeroberts : February 3, 2012 5:11 pm

Now it totally seems like a nitpick. I’m sorry. I commit typos all of the time and prefer to correct them. I always assume that other people would like to do the same. In this case, I only made an “ass” out of me.

The article as a whole was very interesting because I have never heard of the movie, nor have I heard of Christopher Jones. I blinked and missed Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy when it played here. I certainly won’t miss it when it comes out on DVD though.

Posted By swac : February 3, 2012 5:20 pm

Argh, the DVD is going for the ridiculous price of $75 (and up) on Amazon Marketplace, and I remember seeing copies of it around years ago. If only they had put Christopher Jones on the cover (I’m a big fan of WILD IN THE STREETS) instead of Anthony Hopkins, I might have snapped one up when they were cheaper. Oh well, I’ll keep my eyes open…ah, it’s still in print in the UK, available for three pounds, much more reasonable!

Posted By swac : February 3, 2012 5:20 pm

Argh, the DVD is going for the ridiculous price of $75 (and up) on Amazon Marketplace, and I remember seeing copies of it around years ago. If only they had put Christopher Jones on the cover (I’m a big fan of WILD IN THE STREETS) instead of Anthony Hopkins, I might have snapped one up when they were cheaper. Oh well, I’ll keep my eyes open…ah, it’s still in print in the UK, available for three pounds, much more reasonable!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 5:22 pm

Great stuff, Harvey! Thanks so much for sharing it. I’d love to read your whole interview with Jones. He’s a fascinating figure.

In Quinten Falk’s autobiography of Anthony Hopkins he discusses how Hopkins had a rough time during the making of the film because he was going through a divorce. But he also quotes Hopkins on Jones and he had this to say:

“Poor Christopher Jones. He was a nice fellow and a beautiful-looking man but he had a manager that had since died of a drug overdose, who used to feed him on the stuff.”

I don’t know who Jones’ manager was at the time but it reads like the kind of horror story you’d find in a Judy Garland biography. I think people tend to forget that he got into the biz at a very young age during the height of the ’60s. He was also surrounded by people who wanted to make him the next James Dean and that kind of pressure would be hard for anyone to handle.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 5:22 pm

Great stuff, Harvey! Thanks so much for sharing it. I’d love to read your whole interview with Jones. He’s a fascinating figure.

In Quinten Falk’s autobiography of Anthony Hopkins he discusses how Hopkins had a rough time during the making of the film because he was going through a divorce. But he also quotes Hopkins on Jones and he had this to say:

“Poor Christopher Jones. He was a nice fellow and a beautiful-looking man but he had a manager that had since died of a drug overdose, who used to feed him on the stuff.”

I don’t know who Jones’ manager was at the time but it reads like the kind of horror story you’d find in a Judy Garland biography. I think people tend to forget that he got into the biz at a very young age during the height of the ’60s. He was also surrounded by people who wanted to make him the next James Dean and that kind of pressure would be hard for anyone to handle.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 5:26 pm

No worries, duke! I’m just having fun with you. Do give TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY a look on DVD. I really appreciated the film but it’s obviously not to everyone’s taste.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 5:26 pm

No worries, duke! I’m just having fun with you. Do give TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY a look on DVD. I really appreciated the film but it’s obviously not to everyone’s taste.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 5:30 pm

swac – What? That’s nuts! I can’t believe Sony let the DVD go out of print. You’d think they’d re-release the film with a lot of hype since TINKER TAILOR is getting so much press. I just don’t understand the studios. They’re marketing departments are a mess.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 3, 2012 5:30 pm

swac – What? That’s nuts! I can’t believe Sony let the DVD go out of print. You’d think they’d re-release the film with a lot of hype since TINKER TAILOR is getting so much press. I just don’t understand the studios. They’re marketing departments are a mess.

Posted By swac : February 3, 2012 6:39 pm

And it only came out a few years ago too, there are probably copies floating around the bargain bins out there.

Maybe it’ll show up via their MOD line of discs, but I’ll probably just get the UK release, it’s a real steal.

Posted By swac : February 3, 2012 6:39 pm

And it only came out a few years ago too, there are probably copies floating around the bargain bins out there.

Maybe it’ll show up via their MOD line of discs, but I’ll probably just get the UK release, it’s a real steal.

Posted By Fred : February 3, 2012 7:11 pm

Another wonderful article about an underappreciated/forgotten 60s film, Kimberly. I always look forward to your reviews of these films.

It was really tragic about Christopher Jones. The camera really loved him, and he starred in some of my favorite films from the 60s. I remember reading an interview with him in a mid-90s movie magazine (I can’t remember which one and I doubt I still have the issue). He seemed to be disinterested in films and in discussing his past, like the films were just something he did at the time for money, drugs, to keep busy, etc. One thing I’ve wondered is if Brad Pitt watched a lot of Jones’s movies. I’ve often felt that Pitt has taken a great deal from Christopher Jones, in much the same way that Jones took from James Dean and Marlon Brando before him.

Posted By Fred : February 3, 2012 7:11 pm

Another wonderful article about an underappreciated/forgotten 60s film, Kimberly. I always look forward to your reviews of these films.

It was really tragic about Christopher Jones. The camera really loved him, and he starred in some of my favorite films from the 60s. I remember reading an interview with him in a mid-90s movie magazine (I can’t remember which one and I doubt I still have the issue). He seemed to be disinterested in films and in discussing his past, like the films were just something he did at the time for money, drugs, to keep busy, etc. One thing I’ve wondered is if Brad Pitt watched a lot of Jones’s movies. I’ve often felt that Pitt has taken a great deal from Christopher Jones, in much the same way that Jones took from James Dean and Marlon Brando before him.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 5, 2012 1:54 am

swac – Good luck on getting a copy!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 5, 2012 1:54 am

swac – Good luck on getting a copy!

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 5, 2012 2:04 am

Fred – Thanks a lot, Fred. I’m glad you enjoyed my look at THE LOOKING GLASS WAR. I hope it gets a re-released on DVD so more people can see it.

Christopher Jones really was a fascinating actor and the camera definitely loved him. I can see what you mean about Pitt referencing Jones in his own performances. I’d never really noticed before but now that you’ve mentioned it I can understand why you might think that. But Pitt always reads kind of blank to me. Like there’s not a whole lot going on in his head. While Jones seemed to be thinking all the time.

Posted By Kimberly Lindbergs : February 5, 2012 2:04 am

Fred – Thanks a lot, Fred. I’m glad you enjoyed my look at THE LOOKING GLASS WAR. I hope it gets a re-released on DVD so more people can see it.

Christopher Jones really was a fascinating actor and the camera definitely loved him. I can see what you mean about Pitt referencing Jones in his own performances. I’d never really noticed before but now that you’ve mentioned it I can understand why you might think that. But Pitt always reads kind of blank to me. Like there’s not a whole lot going on in his head. While Jones seemed to be thinking all the time.

Posted By Peter L. Winkler : March 7, 2012 9:08 pm

I wrote an article about the making of “Wild in the Streets” for Filmfax that is still pending publication, and another article about Christopher Jones, and have done some research about him.

His daughter from his marriage to Susan Strasberg is not retarded. She was born with a congenital heart defect that was later surgically repaired.

Jones abruptly quit acting after making “Ryan’s Daughter” because of a combination of stresses. He dislike the treatment he got from David Lean and the director of his previous film, and said in a 1996 interview that he realized that he hated acting. He was also exhausted from carrying on simultaneous affairs with several women. He was also still reeling from the snhocks of the murder of Sharon Tate, who he claimed to have had an affair with, and his friend Jim Morrison. Jones gave a fascinating interview to Pamela Des Barres for Movieline magazine in 1996, I think.

Mr. Chartrand, if you read this, I would very mch like you to contact me. I’d love to get a copy of your interview. plwinkler at yahoo dot com. Thanks.

Posted By Peter L. Winkler : March 7, 2012 9:08 pm

I wrote an article about the making of “Wild in the Streets” for Filmfax that is still pending publication, and another article about Christopher Jones, and have done some research about him.

His daughter from his marriage to Susan Strasberg is not retarded. She was born with a congenital heart defect that was later surgically repaired.

Jones abruptly quit acting after making “Ryan’s Daughter” because of a combination of stresses. He dislike the treatment he got from David Lean and the director of his previous film, and said in a 1996 interview that he realized that he hated acting. He was also exhausted from carrying on simultaneous affairs with several women. He was also still reeling from the snhocks of the murder of Sharon Tate, who he claimed to have had an affair with, and his friend Jim Morrison. Jones gave a fascinating interview to Pamela Des Barres for Movieline magazine in 1996, I think.

Mr. Chartrand, if you read this, I would very mch like you to contact me. I’d love to get a copy of your interview. plwinkler at yahoo dot com. Thanks.

Posted By Lynda A O’Brien : June 3, 2012 1:40 am

Hi Kimberley,

Your review of TLGW is very interesting. Thank you for shedding some new light on this underrated gem. Overwhelming criticism that the film didn’t follow the novel seems to have handicapped it at it’s initial release. In fact the changes made from book to film make the portrayal of its subject matter much more pertinent to its time. The 60s saw a rise in dominance of youth culture and youthful voices against the entrenched forces of an older generation, flawed and old-fashioned in their vision, jaded by their devastating experiences of war. Several scenes encapsulate this theme brilliantly. I love the moment at the dinner table, during Leiser’s initial training, where while the others discuss the futility of war a British Intelligence operative does the Times crossword. In a delicious irony the same operative questions Leiser’s moral worth when Leiser says he is willing to complete the mission without knowing too many of its details. Brilliant design elements such as the stark white traditional interiors of the Ministry and of Leiser’s cell seem to mock the darkness of the business at hand. And yes Jones is mesmerizing to watch. Also, if you listen to his voice in Wild In The Streets, the dubbing idea seems very doubtful. The voice sounds like his, and if dubbed, it is a seamless job. Can anyone offer better confirmation of that?

I bought TLGW from ebay. Also Mod Cinema has some of Jones old films available, including Three in the Attic – another underrated little gem.

Posted By Lynda A O’Brien : June 3, 2012 1:40 am

Hi Kimberley,

Your review of TLGW is very interesting. Thank you for shedding some new light on this underrated gem. Overwhelming criticism that the film didn’t follow the novel seems to have handicapped it at it’s initial release. In fact the changes made from book to film make the portrayal of its subject matter much more pertinent to its time. The 60s saw a rise in dominance of youth culture and youthful voices against the entrenched forces of an older generation, flawed and old-fashioned in their vision, jaded by their devastating experiences of war. Several scenes encapsulate this theme brilliantly. I love the moment at the dinner table, during Leiser’s initial training, where while the others discuss the futility of war a British Intelligence operative does the Times crossword. In a delicious irony the same operative questions Leiser’s moral worth when Leiser says he is willing to complete the mission without knowing too many of its details. Brilliant design elements such as the stark white traditional interiors of the Ministry and of Leiser’s cell seem to mock the darkness of the business at hand. And yes Jones is mesmerizing to watch. Also, if you listen to his voice in Wild In The Streets, the dubbing idea seems very doubtful. The voice sounds like his, and if dubbed, it is a seamless job. Can anyone offer better confirmation of that?

I bought TLGW from ebay. Also Mod Cinema has some of Jones old films available, including Three in the Attic – another underrated little gem.

Posted By Bert : August 30, 2012 11:18 am

Airing Saturday, Sept. 29 on TCM.

Posted By Bert : August 30, 2012 11:18 am

Airing Saturday, Sept. 29 on TCM.

Posted By Lee Pfeiffer : December 30, 2012 5:53 pm

Great review, Kimberly. The film is now available from Sony as a burn-to-order title. See review on Cinema Retro web site.

Posted By Lee Pfeiffer : December 30, 2012 5:53 pm

Great review, Kimberly. The film is now available from Sony as a burn-to-order title. See review on Cinema Retro web site.

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