MovieChat Forums > Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Discussion > Its 'The Little Things' that keeps me wa...

Its 'The Little Things' that keeps me watching it over and over....


I love the scene in the beginning when Smiley tells Peter that he is going to change and Peter picks up Smiley's coat and jacket like someone picking up after their beloved father or Grandfather!

He also puts a blanket over a sleeping Smiley in Smiley's People...


Both so touching!

reply


Like Smiley's shoes soaking wet in the rain. You'd think people who had access to the reptile fund would be wearing the expensive stuff.

Or Smiley telling Guillam to give ricki his gun back, right after Ricki assaulted him. It's a sign of trust, or a means to gain Tarr's trust even more, perhaps?

Or as someone mentioned (I had missed it every time I watched) in the opening scene of the first episode, everyone has papers, except Bill Haydon.

Or Prideaux's trembling voice as he asks Smiley "Tell me about the networks. Did anyone get out?" You can sense in his voice how hopeless he is about the answer, as if he can guess the answer already.

Or Sam Collins's dialogue with Control after Prideaux's shooting. For a moment Control stumbles, and Sam reaches out to hold his arm, as if he's helping an old man.

The details are too many and they add greatly to the quality of an already superb show.

Never be complete.

reply

During Smiley’s encounter with Karla: “Don’t destroy yourself.” Smiley looks away, wipes the sweat from the back of his neck and says, “They’re not worth it,” and you know that Smiley is no longer talking about Karla.

reply

When Lacon's daughters start playing their violins and everyone gets startled... Lacon opens the window to the morning light showing they've been meeting all night!

reply

During Guillam's semi-interrogation about the Ricki Tarr situation by Percy Alleline and the rest of the London Station, Bill Haydon is obviously amused by Guillam's humorous comments. But when Alleline mentions the name on Tarr's passport, Haydon's smile disappears, he's clearly concerned. That was a piece of information that he didn't want Guillam to know.

Never be complete.

reply

I also love this scene for another reason. Everyone at the table were so cocky, pompous, and condescending to Peter... Little do they know that their attitudes will change in a very short time, thanks to Peter and Smiley! :)

reply

That scene is among my favorites, too. From start to finish, it's directed and acted masterfully. The camera angles, compositions are superb. The mood changes from tense to humorous to intriguing seamlessly. The interactions are great.

Here's another one: In the second or third episode, after Ricki Tarr finishes telling his story in Lacon's house, Guillam mentions that "when Tarr came to him, he called Lacon's house from a call box." Upon Smiley's frown, he adds "There was no reason to assume the phone was tapped." Smiley replies, "There was every reason."

Just at this moment, we see Tarr smiling happily like a little boy. He obviously enjoys seeing Guillam reprimanded by Smiley. There's that kind of tension between Guillam and Tarr throughout the series: they may respect each other's work, but personally, are not exactly fond of each other.

Never be complete.

reply

Guillam does not respect Tarr's work.

reply

Just today I noticed something. I don't know how to interpret it.

Before the scene where Smiley interrogates Toby Esterhase (the second time, when he confesses he knows about Polyakov) Esterhase is sitting in the safe house with Guillam. He takes out and looks at his pocket watch... then looks at his wrist watch, as if checking if it's on time.

It may be that he prefers to have a pocket watch because it fits his style, but does not trust them really, so keeps his wrist watch as well. I don't know what else to make of it.

Never be complete.

reply

Is it Esterhase who has the pocket watch? (I don't clearly remember the scene.) If so, he probably has it because though Hungarian-born, he likes to play the English gentleman (in the book, though not the TV show, this masquerade is exposed by the fact that his English is not perfect). But he does not trust the pocket watch to keep accurate time so has a wrist watch as well.

"Chicken soup - with a *beep* straw."

reply

IIRC, the novel mentions that that is exactly the reason why he wears the wristwatch in addition to the more 'British gentleman's' pocket watch.

reply

It is a while since I read the novel, but Esterhase's essential foreignness concealed behind an attempt to pose as an English gentleman is stressed more in it than in the TV series, in which Bernard Hepton portrayed him with an English accent and slight lisp. Of the suspected moles, the Hungarian-born Esterhase was the only foreigner by origin and on face value he was the most obvious suspect. Even Karla seemed to be pushing things in that direction by asking Prideaux how anyone could trust a Hungarian.

"Chicken soup - with a *beep* straw."

reply

True, Toby's slight foreignness is toned down in the teleplay, which made it just a shade jarring when he turns up in full Hungarian mode in 'Smiley's People'. Since none of the backstory of Smiley's early acquaintance with Toby is included in the screenplay, it can be easy to miss out on the significance of his being the only one of the four who derives from an Eastern European background, and I think the subtle touches introduced into the character to make up for lack of a more explicit account of his origins can lead a viewer--especially a viewer not fully clued in to the subtleties of the British class system, and the small things that can point up Toby as an outsider trying to 'pass'--to maybe miss recognizing the importance of his somewhat precarious position in the hierarchy of the Circus.

reply

One that made me smile: Tarr is apparently allowed to post his football pool forms each week whilst under guard, but of course his mail is intercepted by the agents responsible for his detention and therefore never reach their intended destination. Commenting on this Smiley gravely says to Guillam something like it would cost his department a fortune if one week Tarr's numbers should come up.

reply

When Haydon, after his capture, is explaining to Smiley just why Karla didn't make him top man in the Circus after Control's ouster--he gives several reasons that sound cogent...and then turns to give Smiley a look rather like a sulky little boy, and says "I could've done it, though."

Also the little business with the tissue, after his breakdown in front of Smiley (which has triggered another nosebleed); the way he sort of delicately brushes off the front of his prison uniform, with this gesture of elegant and fussy fastidiousness, which is totally out of place considering his surroundings. It's a great small and revealing character touch on Richardson's part.

reply

Oh gosh, yes. Little moments that make up a great big epic....

Connie's meeting with Smiley. Then...almost more importantly...the way Smiley slips out of Connie's bed sit. It indicates that he got what he came for and doesn't TRULY feel anything for poor Connie. He played a role to get her to speak, and once she did, he just walked out without even bothering to be "sociable" to say goodbye.

Smileys' subtle reaction to Karla after Karla defeats him during the interrogation.

The various Bill Haydon moments telegraphing HE'S THE MOLE. Opening scene he's the only one not wearing a suit--he's in casual tweed jacket and slacks, unlike ANYBODY else in the meeting--the's the 'odd man out." (I originally knew right then the first time I ever saw TTSS that he was the mole). Then later when Control calls everybody together in the conference room to go over all the "evidence," Bill simply sits at the conference tables, arms crossed, dozing with his eyes closed, pretending to be utterly bored by the whole "who's the mole" discussion.

reply

Bill simply sits at the conference tables, arms crossed, dozing with his eyes closed, pretending to be utterly bored by the whole "who's the mole" discussion.


That's a great sequence...I love the little jokes he pitches essentially making fun of the pompous Alleline, as well.

The scene where the the London Station boys are grilling Guillam is also marvelous; the way Haydon is barely holding back laughter at their ineptitude, the dialogue (Esterhase: "Remember, this is ultra, ultra secret"; Guillam: "Then I'll keep my mouth ultra, ultra shut"). I don't think the writers were too concerned with trying to keep Haydon's identity as the mole totally secret to the end, no more than Le Carre's novel was.

The Connie sequence is very well played. In the novel, Smiley's meeting with her is much longer--it covers, IIRC, more than a chapter--but this condenses down very nicely the essence of it. Connie is, sad to say, considered something of a joke apparently, even though she was of course dead right about Polyakov. This scene plays down that aspect, but still makes it plain that 'her lovely boys' always meant far more to her than she did to them.

reply

One of my favorite scenes is the beginning of the first interrogation of Tarr by Smiley. At first in seems like Smiley is the one who is going to be interrogated, beeing fetchd by Peter "no matter what" and than Tarr giving him his speech standing. Than Smiley sits down, and puts on his glasses and suddenly the whole mood changes. He is no longer a feeble old man, he is the master and in total conrol.

reply

That's a good one. I love the way the Tarr story sequence ends, with the viewer sort of being jolted back to reality in the sitting room, with Smiley, Guillam and Lacon sitting there, the sun now streaming through the windows; the only indication given that the men have been there listening to this incredible story virtually all night.

reply

I just finished watching this series for the first time and really enjoyed it. The great thing about it is that'll I'll have no problem watching it a few more times to capture all the little details. Great series...

reply

LOL, I've watched it too many times to count--and I'm still always absorbed by it and keep finding new things in it with each viewing. It's a true 'they don't make 'em like this anymore' classic that that stands up to any number of repeat watchings.

reply

After the 'reveal' of TTSS the self-nauseated look on Percy Alleline's face as he realized what a complete pompous ass and idiot he is - a mere tool of Karla.

reply

That's a great moment--all of their reactions--Toby fiddling about with some of the equipment in the background, trying to look as if he's not in the room, and then giving Smiley that fatuous compliment is another high point in that scene.

Another moment I find priceless is what may be a bit of a 'flub' caught on film--the scene where Guillam is testing the recording equipment and breaks into a few bars of 'Old Man River' on the tape, as Smiley is upstairs listening--the camera stays on Guinness for just a moment, and I swear he's fighting back breaking into a laugh, with the scene ending just before he does. I always laugh watching that sequence.

reply

This is one of my all time fav series, brilliantly written, brilliantly acted and in my opinion, never bettered!

My fave scene is where Smiley meets Jerry Westerby (Joss Ackland) in the bar; JOss plays the part of a seasoned "hack" reporter brilliantly and the whole scene where its like two old friends sharing a drink, though as as this board is abit " little things" here are my two choices in this scene.

1/ i love the fact that Jerry comments that the drinks will gon his tab but they will "go dutch" on the food bill. It shows that he is open about his monetary troubles.

2/ I also love the language he uses, especialy one of my all time favourite lines, "Bad for Chief, Bad for Tribe." It sums up his character perfectly; he loved the circus and was prepared to go to his paper to release it if the Circus wouldnt play ball.

This in IMO is a brllaint scene, well acted and superb dialogue:)

reply

I agree that's a wonderful sequence, in that musty restaurant/bar (you can practically smell the place). Ackland is letter-perfect as Jerry; and though the scene is nothing more than an extended conversation, between such two pros, what conversation it is!

50 Is The New Cutoff Age.

reply

They go dutch, and he's eating like there's no tomorrow.

I also love Westerby's manners. He has none of the clandestine and snobbish ways of the other people Smiley works with. He's open, honest, is not above joking about his own failure. He's actually hesitant about mentioning the story (which he heard from Esterhase) about Smiley's wife, probably not wanting to embarrass him (at least that's how I interpreted it). Many other collegaues would have brought it up at once, to spite Smiley (Roddy Martindale, Ricky Tarr, etc) whereas Westerby told Esterhase off. Even Smiley points this out to Guillam, "Have you noticed, Peter, that whenever I really trouble one of our acquaintances with my questions, he'll raise the matter of my failure as a husband."

Never be complete.

reply

Ackland makes Jerry so sympathetic that it's possible to guess there was no attempt to film the intervening novel in the triad, The Honorable Schoolboy, on account of his performance. Jerry turns out the complete rotter in that one, and who would have wanted to see Ackland's Westerby in that light?

50 Is The New Cutoff Age.

reply

I was surprised LeCarre used the Westerby character again for The Honorable Schoolboy. Jerry in TTSP is a middle aged, slightly incompetent lush, who can barely make it from bar stool to bar stool. He's a loser. In THS he comes across as young, athletic, fit, adventurous, resourceful, and very much a ladies man. Don't forget he's shacked up at the beginning of the novel, later burns the bank director by showing him the night life, and ends up dooming himself by falling for the Ko's mistress. A completely different man. I think LeCarre should have invented a new name for what is essentially a new man.

reply

Indeed.

reply