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John Le Carre's A Murder of Quality
John Le Carre's A Murder of Quality
Actors: Denholm Elliott, Joss Ackland, Glenda Jackson, Billie Whitelaw, David Threlfall
Director: Gavin Millar
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2004     1hr 30min

Famed British spy novelist John Le Carré wrote the screenplay for A Murder of Quality, adapting it from his novel of the same name. Former Intelligence agent George Smiley investigates a murder within an elite British scho...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Denholm Elliott, Joss Ackland, Glenda Jackson, Billie Whitelaw, David Threlfall
Director: Gavin Millar
Creators: Denis Crossan, Angus Newton, Brian Walcroft, Eric Abraham, John le Carré
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: A&E Home Video
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 12/28/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Nina E.
Reviewed on 5/27/2013...
I am a huge John Le Carre fan. The books are awesome, as well as, the movie productions. Le Carre is a master of the Spy era...if you are a Ian Fleming/James Bond 007'll LOVE this. Different in that, it doesn't have the Hollywood explosion stunts. It's espionage at it's finest.

Movie Reviews

Civilized, Brutal Murders At Carne School, With John Le Carr
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 12/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Stella Rode, the wife of the new junior master at Carne School, just doesn't fit in. Carne is a British prep school with a history of preparing the sons of the upper class for lives of service and privilege. The teachers at Carne are part of this upper-class world, smug in their superiority and condescending toward those who don't fit in. Stella Rode wears her Christian beliefs on her sleeve. She does good works, collects clothes for the needy, often has a superior air about her. She also searches out secrets, uses gossip and anonymous letters to bring retribution, and doesn't hesitate to destroy a career. One night, she is beaten to death.

Days before, she wrote to Ailsa Brimley (Glenda Jackson), a relative who had experience in the war, that she feared for her life and that she suspected her husband. Ailsa contacted a colleague who, like Ailsa, was now retired, but who had also done things in the war which people didn't refer to. His name is George Smiley (Denholm Elliot).

Ailsa convinces George to go to Carne and see what is worrying Stella Rode. By the time he arrives, Rode has been killed and the police suspect her husband. Smiley isn't so sure and decides to stay a few days. He is cooly welcomed by the other masters, including house master Terence Fielding (Joss Ackland) who is shortly to retire. Smiley, a quiet, middle-aged man who is easy to underestimate, begins noticing things. What happened to the bloody outer garments the murderer must have worn? What exactly was used to beat Stella Rode to death? Where exactly did Stanley Rode leave his briefcase that night, and why did it seem so heavy? What are the relationships between some of the teachers, and, perhaps, between some of the teachers and the boys they teach? Then one of the boys, Timothy Perkins (Christian Bale), is found dead on a country road, an apparent victim of a hit-and-run. Smiley determines Perkins may have been run over by a car, but it is far more likely he, too, was beaten to death first.

Eventually, Smiley narrows the circle of suspects down. Then, one evening over a very civilized dinner, he and Ailsa confront the killer. The murders were all about privileges and reputations, "our" class versus "their" class.

The teleplay was written by John Le Carre from his early mystery of the same name. The first half is almost sedate, as we learn about Smiley and then as he learns about Carne. Things pick up appreciably as the underbelly of the privileged is exposed. The conclusion, when even a boy can be sacrificed to preserve the class structure, is right in line with many of Le Carre's themes.

Denholm Elliot does a fine job as George Smiley, so underwhelming at first meeting and yet so smart, so persistent and, in his own way, so ruthless. Smiley doesn't talk about what he did during the war, but it is clear whatever he did involved subterfuge and killing. Two other actors have played Smiley; all three have been excellent. Alec Guinness starred in the two television specials Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People. James Mason played Smiley, renamed for some reason Charles Dobbs, in the movie The Deadly Affair (from Le Carre's Call for the Dead)."
Solid Adaptation
A viewer | 12/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The reviewer from Beumont, TX has no clue what he was watching. To watch this film without any knowledge of the unparalleled John Le Carre is folly. The reviewer didn't know that the so-called "ex-spy" was Le Carre's great hero - George Smiley, spy par excellence despite his failing in the social graces. If you are aware of Le Carre and Smiley, you will enjoy this movie. It is difficult to portray Le Carre books effectively, because of the depth of his characters, but this does a good job of portraying the Smiley character."
Goody on the Outside/Evil on the Inside
Janet Riehl | St. Louis, MO | 07/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"George Smiley (Denholm Elliott plays him so unassuming and gentle) and Ailsa Brimley (Glenda Jackson is a joy!) play former spy chums who crack a murder case in Carne, a classic English Boys School environment.

The school is all that is desirable on the outside, yet has dark secrets on the inside. Sheila Rode possesses all these secrets and is murdered for them.

What I find most intriguing about the story is how people remember Sheila. She is a Goody Two Shoes that everyone loved to hate. Even her father cannot say anything good about her, even when pressed by Smiley in his reporter's guise (Smiley: "How would you best remember her?" Father: "She got what she deserved.") Ouch. Her last act of blackmail was against her husband in a letter written to an agony columnist. In talking to Smiley (it turns into therapy for his agonized mourning--this is an especially good portrayal of complicated loss) the husband reveals he hadn't realized how much he'd hated her--how evil she really was--until after her death.

No clue wasted in this John Le Carre screenplay based on his book by the same name. I loved the cinematography. Those haunting images of the ghostly figure in the luminous raincoat on the bicycle traveling through the rain--what the homeless woman saw, of course, when she thought she saw the devil. Maybe she did.

--Janet Grace Riehl, author Sightlines: A Poet's Diary"