The Ipcress File (1965)

In this stylish adaptation of Len Deighton’s thriller, secret agent Harry Palmer finds himself a pawn in a Cold War game.

Stills must not be reproduced, copied or downloaded in any way.

Film details


“For the first time in a British film heroism is no longer the prerogative of a tight-lipped aristocracy imbued with the public-school ethos.”
Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, Sight & Sound, 1965

Bond co-producer Harry Saltzman aimed to establish Harry Palmer (Michael Caine in his first starring role) as the anti-007. To help him in this quest he hired composer John Barry, editor Peter Hunt and production designer Ken Adam, all key players in the Bond series.

While Bond gets to gad about the Caribbean, working-class culture nut Palmer remains stuck in shabby, dimly-lit London. More fall guy than super spy, he might even be called corrupt, although that would assume an integrity in his colleagues and superiors that is altogether absent.

Young Canadian director Sidney J Furie, working with veteran cinematographer Otto Heller, fills the wide screen with slabs of colour, cramming faces into odd parts of his frequently angular frame – an amusingly 1960s look that doesn’t obscure the fine work of a strong cast.

One of a string of moody mid-1960s European spy thrillers, it spawned two direct sequels, Funeral in Berlin (1966) and Billion Dollar Brain (1967).

Cast & Credits

Latest from the BFI

  • Latest from the BFI

    Latest news, features and opinion.

More information

Films, TV and people

  • Films, TV and people

    Film lists and highlights from BFI Player.

More information

Sight & Sound magazine

  • Sight & Sound magazine

    Reviews, interviews and features from the international film magazine.

More information

Back to the top