It’s hard to say much about a spy movie without getting into spoilers. Suffice to say, Richard Burton’s Alec Lemas and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold provide an interesting contrast to something like the Bourne movies, which are much more violent while at the same time being a good deal less daring. While distinguished and handsome, Burton isn’t conventionally good looking the way Matt Damon is, and no effort is expended to make his character sympathetic. That wasn’t the point here. No one was building a franchise. Rather, they were making a spy movie that, while taught, also has something to say. And while both Bourne and Lemas come in from the cold, so to speak, only one is able to do so on his own terms.
P.S.- One reviewer mentioned Burton’s performance as second only to his performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe. The reference made me think of my list of Halloween movies, which my wife poked fun at me about for failing to include anything truly scary. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, now that’s scary. Not sure I have the wherewithall to watch that one again.