Alec(Richard Burton) is an aging spy, formerly chief of the Berlin division, put on a counter-espionage assignment to protect a plant on the other side of the wall in the depth of the Cold War. Back in England, he sets up a counterfeit defection, and falls in love with a librarian(Claire Bloom) who is coincidently secretary of the local chapter of the communist party. In the East, subterfuge becomes subterfuge becomes subterfuge, with the careful acting of Alec and Burton. The movie excellently clarified for me espionage and those who practice it. They are no moral philosophers, but henpecked husbands and queers, seedy men like Alec, civil servants playing Cowboys & Indians to fill up their desperate lives. Alec is given direction by his central handler that crystallizes it: drink continuously, but not too much that you can’t think.