Oct 2, 2007

Tradecraft: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Scripter

Buried at the end of Variety's article about writer Peter Morgan's follow-up to The Queen is the news that the British scribe is also working on a new movie version of John Le Carre's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy for Working Title. No further details are given on the project.

Le Carre's book was famously (and many would argue perfectly) adapted into a TV miniseries in 1980 starring the incomparable Alec Guinness as Le Carre's antihero, George Smiley. It was followed by a sequel, Smiley's People, in 1982. Denholm Elliott stepped into the role for the 1992 TV movie A Murder of Quality, but it was difficult for even a great actor like him to fill Guinness' shoes. I imagine whoever plays the part in the new movie will face the same challenge, but there are a lot of intriguing possibilities out there. Jim Broadbent, for one, leaps to mind. Rupert Davies played Smiley prior to Guinness in the 1965 film The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.

Peter Morgan won acclaim last year for a pair of royal scripts; he wrote both The Queen and The Last King of Scotland. The Queen was the second movie in his "Tony Blair trilogy" with actor Michael Sheen playing the PM. Sheen will reprise the role for Morgan's follow-up, focusing on Blair's relationships with Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Morgan is also doing a polish on the script for the American remake of acclaimed British political thriller State of Play, starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.

1 comment:

Dylan said...

It might be heresy to say so, but as good as he was, I don't really think that Alec Guinness's George Smiley was quite the definitive interpretation, particularly in Tinker, Tailor. He's a little more hard-edged than in the books. I thought that Denholm Elliott got a little closer than Guinness did. And there are a number of actors that could probably do a decent job. Besides Jim Broadbent (who is a lot taller than the character is supposed to be), Tom Wilkinson could probably do well. I personally would like to see Julian Fellowes do it.

The real problem with a film adaptation is the length. The TV series was six hours long, and they cut out massive amounts of stuff that I really think is important. Making something that would fit into feature film length (>3 hours) would be even more problematic.