Tuesday, May 14, 2024


I remember The Ipcress File movie starring Michael Caine. The new Ipcress File streaming series is different from both the movie and the novel by Len Deighton. That being said, it is quite interesting for what it is. Great cinematography, acting, period setting, and plot twists. Let me know what you think. Make a comment.

The Ipcress File is available on AcornTV. 6 episodes.

From the  NYT Review

The original “Ipcress File,” based on a novel by Len Deighton, regularly shows up on lists of the best spy films, even though it’s not very good. Pauline Kael called it overwrought and rather silly, a judgment that looks even more apt a half-century on. Its attractions are limited to Caine’s charisma, 1960s London atmosphere (grimy and groovy), some garish energy and a measure of chic sadism (the common link in Caine’s films from that time).

Perhaps it wasn't the best spy movie ever, but I liked it, but I was a big Michael Caine fan at the time. I don't remember all the details of the film which is good because the new Ipcress File TV series is quite different. 

Storyline: As the Cold War rages, former smuggler-turned-reluctant spy Harry Palmer finds himself at the center of a dangerous undercover mission, on which he must use his links to find a missing British nuclear scientist.

Rotten Tomatoes says: Slick, stylish, and packing sly nods to present politics, The Ipcress File is a classic spy caper with a modern sensibility. 

I agree with that. 


The Ipcress File is a British cold war spy thriller television series loosely based on the 1962 novel The IPCRESS File by Len Deighton. Written by John Hodge and directed by James Watkins, it stars Joe ColeLucy Boynton and Tom Hollander. It was first broadcast at 9pm from Sunday 6 March to 10 April 2022 on ITV.

Contrary to previous adaptations, the story has been extensively reworked, with plot and some characters radically altered and a lot of new material added, making the TV series significantly different from Deighton's original. The series is also influenced by the 1965 film, most obviously by adopting the "Harry Palmer" and "Jean Courtney" character names coined for the film. Visually, director James Watkins makes several nods to the direction of Sidney J. Furie, with regular use of angled camera work, and in places borrows almost shot-for-shot the framing of certain scenes.

One of the most recognisable homages to the film is during the opening sequence in episode 1, featuring coffee grinding and coffee making, and the very first opening shot of Palmer's glasses. Watkins said "[It was a] little wink ... the gaze is out of focus and then it finds focus when he puts the glasses on." Writing in 

The Guardian Stuart Jeffries comments that "this opening reference to 57-year-old movie eyewear is a surprising gambit by director James Watkins and writer John Hodge, given their creative betrayal elsewhere of the source material."

Creative betrayal? Well, that's one way of putting it. 


Judy Bobalik said...

I just started watching. I liked the first episode.

DianaParsons said...

Joe Cole delivered a credible character in the Ipcress File with subtle nuanced differences. The Joe Cole version of the Ipcress File may well prove to be of the same enduring quality as the epic Harry Saltzman version starring Michael Caine. In a way though it is a shame that the film industry is producing yet another remake of a classic thriller. If success is to breed success the film industry must not polish old gems but mine for new ones.

In the espionage genre, an example of such a new gem is Beyond Enkription, the first fact based spy thriller in The Burlington Files series by Bill Fairclough aka Edward Burlington who was a real MI6 agent, codename JJ and one of Pemberton’s People in MI6. I only mention that because, coincidentally, a few critics have likened its protagonist to a "posh and sophisticated Harry Palmer" and the first novel in the series is indisputably anti-Bond or at the least a tad Deightonesque. It's worth checking out this enigmatic and elusive thriller, a must read for espionage illuminati, albeit it’s not being a remake may mean that to date it has eluded you.

For more beguiling anecdotes best read a brief and intriguing News Article about Pemberton’s People in MI6 dated 3 May 2024 in TheBurlingtonFiles website and then read Beyond Enkription.

Sue T. said...

Joe & I watched it a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I'm glad it's available on a few different streaming services now so more people will have the chance to check it out.